Buckling Up

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More West Virginia motorists appear to be buckling up. That's according to the governor's Highway Safety Program.

Program officials cite surveys comparing driver seat belt use before and after a recent highway safety campaign was conducted. The surveys show that the percentage of drivers who buckle up rose from 52.3 percent to 71.6 percent.

The campaign, Click It or Ticket, was held from May 17 through Memorial Day weekend. During that time, law enforcement officers conducted 214 information checkpoints and watched for seat belt violations while pulling over motorists for other traffic offenses.

Officers wrote about 3,000 seat belt and 600 child passenger safety citations, recording a total of more than 6,000 traffic and criminal offenses.

In 2001, West Virginia ranked 50th in the nation for overall seat belt use, but the Highway Safety Program says the state could move up to 32nd for 2002.

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How Many People Are Using Seat Belts?

  • 1998 – 69%
  • 1999 – 67%
  • 2000 – 71%
  • 2001 – 73%

Seat Belt Safety Tips

  • Kids Ride in Back - Infants should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. Children, typically ages 12 and under, also should ride buckled up in the back seat.

  • Child Safety Seats - Young children and infants always should ride in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats. The safety seat should be held properly in place by the vehicle's safety belts and the child should be correctly buckled in the child safety seat.

  • Wear Both Lap and Shoulder Belts - The shoulder strap should cross the collarbone, and the lap belt should fit low and tight. The shoulder strap should never be slipped behind the back or under the arm - this is a dangerous habit, especially in cars with air bags.

It Costs Not to Wear Your Seat Belt

  • Americans are paying $14.3 billion per year in injury-related costs for people who don't wear seat belts.

  • On average, those injured pay for less than 30 percent of these total costs. The remaining 70 percent - $10.1 billion, is paid for by society through higher automobile and health insurance rates and through public assistance programs funded with federal and state tax revenues.

  • By increasing seat belt use from the current 70 percent to 90 percent, we would save $356 million a year in Medicare and Medicaid costs alone.

  • It is estimated that each driver who buckles up is paying an additional auto insurance premium of $40 per year to cover the costs of the drivers who don't buckle up.

Source: www.nsc.org