A record 80 percent of Americans wear their seatbelts while driving or riding in their vehicles, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced. According to Mineta, the number of Americans wearing their seatbelts has increased dramatically over the past few years.
The Bush Administrations unprecedented focus on highway safety has produced a record high percentage of Americans wearing their safety belts and a record low fatality rate, Mineta said.
In the past four years, safety belt use has increased steadily from 71 percent in 2000 to 80 percent this year. The 80 percent safety belt usage will save 15,200 lives and $50 billion in economic costs associated with traffic related crashes, injuries, and deaths every year, Mineta said.
The Secretary said the success was due in large part to states that have passed primary safety belt laws. Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have primary safety belt laws that allow police officers to stop a motorist solely for not wearing a safety belt.
The Secretary chose to visit Washington for the announcement to tout its success, noting 94 percent of the states citizens buckle up. Washington passed a primary seatbelt law in 2002 and experienced a 9 percent reduction in overall traffic fatalities since the law was passed, he said.
Its no coincidence that because 8 out of 10 Americans are wearing their safety belts, we have also achieved the lowest traffic fatality rate on our Nations highways since record-keeping began 29 years ago, Mineta said.
Todays traffic fatality rate is 1.48 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a dramatic reduction since 1975 when the rate was 3.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
[Source: U.S. Department of Transportation