According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recently published report (Seat Belt Use in 2018—Overall Results), seat belt use in Pennsylvania increased nearly 3 percent in 2018 to 88.5 percent, which is in line with the national average at 89.6 percent.
Seat belt use is the single most important factor in preventing or reducing the severity of injuries to vehicle occupants involved in a traffic crash. According to
NHTSA, when used properly, lap/shoulder belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-severe
injury by 50 percent.
The good news is seat belt use has been on the rise nationally, and in Pennsylvania, ever since seat belts were integrated into car design beginning in 1964. According
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “All new passenger cars had some form of seat belts beginning in 1964, shoulder belts in 1968, and integrated lap and shoulder belts in 1974.”
NHTSA reports that seat belt use has increased from about 14 percent in the early 1980s to 89.6 percent in 2018. Reasons for this increase include creation of seat
belt laws, seat belt law enforcement and seat belt effectiveness.
While the increases in seat belt use is impressive, one out of every six occupants are still not buckled up – the majority of whom are teenagers and young adults (ages
16 to 24). The CDC reports that more than half of teens (13 to 19 years old) who died in crashes in 2016 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
To offer a solution, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) offers many resources for parents as their teenagers learn the rules of the road and stay safe behind the wheel, one of which includes PennDOT’s Parent’s Supervised Driving Program handbook (PDF). PennDOT also offers a range of multimedia resources about
seat belts, in general, on it’s website.