Thousands of people are killed in fatal auto accidents every year simply because they were not wearing a seat belt. As a Seattle car wreck lawyer, witnessing the devastation one of these horrible fatal auto accidents can bring to a family, I am always happy to see that traffic legislation is making an impact. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released its Seat Belt Study, showing that the number of people wearing their seat belts is continuing to rise.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission began conducting annual studies in 1986 when the first seat belt laws were enacted making the lack of seat belt use a secondary offense (you could be sited for this infraction if you were pulled over for something else such as, speeding). In the 1986 study only 36% of the population wore a seat belt, but now in 2009 due to the extensive efforts of the government 96% are now buckling up when in a car.
The study monitored both drivers and passengers and separated the finding out depending upon vehicle type and road type. Interestingly, Vans and Trucks had the worst buckle up rate, which, in my way of thinking is a little disturbing, since more often than not Vans are carrying young children. Roads with lower speed limits were also less likely to see drivers wearing seat belts. Slower moving roads had a 93% buckle-up rate compared with 97% of those traveling on interstates.
The more widespread use of seat belts is a result of the increased seat belt campaigns which started in the early 2000’s. The Washington State seat belt law was increased to a primary offense in 2002, meaning that if a police officer sees you without a seat belt you can be pulled over without any other violation. Click-It or Ticket has also had some great results in reducing the number of seat belt violations since hefty fines are now issued on a regular basis.
Washington State is ahead of the game with one of the highest percentages of seat belt users in the nations, but with well over 200,000 people still not buckling up there is still work to do. Please buckle up for your safety- 60% of those who die in fatal auto accidents were not wearing a seat belt. For more information on seatbelt safety read the article: Seat Belt Safety.