A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that seat belt use in the United States dropped one percent last year.
Nationally, seat belt use declined from 85 percent to 84 percent. This is still up from the 80 percent it was in 2004.
A report in The Detroit News says that Michigan’s seat belt use last year declined by 0.7 percent to 94.5 percent. All-time high use was 98 percent in 2009.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia achieved use rates of 90 percent or higher (Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Alabama and Delaware.
At 72.2 percent, New Hampshire has the lowest rate of seat belt usage in the U.S., followed by Massachusetts at 73.7 percent. The highest seat belt usage is in Hawaii and Washington State, with each recording 97.6 percent in 2010.
NHTSA estimates that a one percentage point increase in national safety belt usage results in savings of 220 lives per year.
Kids buckled up in the back seatEnlarge Photo
Lives saved by seat belts
According to data from the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives in 2010, compared with 12,763 in 2009. If all occupants had worn seat belts in 2010, an estimated 3,341 additional lives would have been saved. During the five-year period from 2006 to 2010, seat belts have saved more than 69,000 lives.