WHAT WE KNOW
Teens are at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash .
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds in the United States.
- In 2002, 69% of the young drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking were not wearing a safety belt.
- Many high school students fail to use their safety belts even when riding with adults who are buckled up.
- Male high school students (18%) report that they are likely to use safety belts rarely or never; 10% of female high school students say the same.
Safety belts save lives and dollars .
- In 2001, the estimated economic cost of police-reported crashes involving drivers 15-20 years old was $42.3 billion.
- Safety belts saved more than 12,000 American lives in 2001. Yet during that same year, nearly two thirds (60%) of passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes were not wearing their belts.
- Research has shown that lap/shoulder belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For light truck occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate-to-critical injury by 65%.
- Safety belts should always be worn, even when riding in vehicles equipped with air bags. Air bags are designed to work with safety belts, not alone. Air bags, when not used with safety belts, have a fatality-reducing effectiveness rate of only 12%.
- Safety belt usage saves society an estimated $50 billion annually in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury-related costs.
- Conversely, safety belt nonuse results in significant economic costs to society. The needless deaths and injuries from lack of safety belt usage account for an estimated $26 billion in economic costs to society annually. Drive carefully and responsibly. Concentrate on the road.
- There are two types of safety belt laws: primary and secondary.
- A primary (standard) safety belt law allows law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle and issue a citation when the officer observes an unbelted driver or passenger.
- A secondary safety belt law means that a citation for not wearing a safety belt can be written only after the officer stops the vehicle or cites the offender for another infraction.
- Primary safety belt laws are much more effective in increasing safety belt use, because people are more likely to buckle up when there is the perceived risk of receiving a citation for not wearing a safety belt. In June 2002, the average safety belt use rate in states with primary enforcement laws was 11 percentage points higher than the rate in states without primary enforcement laws. (Safety belt use was 80% in primary law states and 69% in states without primary enforcement.)
- Young drivers in states with a primary safety belt law are more likely to use safety belts than are young drivers in states with a secondary law. The five states that currently have the highest teenage safety belt use are California, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Oregon. These states have primary safety belt laws that are among the strongest in the nation.
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