The results of a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey indicate that 86 percent of the U.S. population wears a seat belt when riding in an automobile. This year’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey results mark the highest reportage of seat belt use by respondents in the history of the study, a result NHTSA administrators credit to public education campaigns such as he “Click It or Ticket” program. According to the survey, seat belt use is highest in the 32 states with laws classifying failure to wear a seat belt as a primary offense, allowing officers to pull over motorists and issue citations for the offense without first witnessing the driver break another traffic law first.
The number of motorists wearing seat belts has increased dramatically since the safety feature was first offered in American cars. Automakers were not originally required to install seat belts in their vehicles, but some companies, such as American Motors began offering customers the option of having them installed. Model year 1960 vehicles included floorboard brackets that dealers would attach seat belts to if customers requested them, but in a congressional hearing on automobile safety that year, company representatives testified that less than one percent of customers asked to have the seat belts installed. The first mandatory seat belt law was not passed in the United States until 1984.
I hope the results of this new study indicate that motorists are becoming more concerned with the safety of themselves and others on the road.