More drivers, passengers buckling up; cell phone use unchanged. Michigan Seat Belt Rises to 94.5 Percent

Contact: Anne Readett, Office of Highway Safety Planning, readetta@michigan.gov, 517-284-3120

July 7, 2016

Michigan’s stagnant seat belt use rate climbed higher this year, rising from 92.8 percent in 2015 to 94.5 percent, according to just-released results from a statewide grant-funded observation study conducted by Michigan State University. This news is heartening following the state’s substantial increase in traffic deaths from 2014 to 2015.

“Traffic safety programs are meant to reduce traffic deaths and mitigate the impact of injuries,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. “The Click It or Ticket campaign remains our cornerstone effort to remind motorists about Michigan’s life-saving seat belt law.”

Since the state’s all-time belt use record of 97.9 percent in 2009, use has been declining and plateaued around 93 percent. With the increase to 94.5 percent, Michigan’s use rate is the highest it has been in five years.

Every 1 percent increase in seat belt use means an estimated fewer 10 traffic deaths and 100 fewer serious injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015 seat belt use in the United States ranged from 69.5 percent in New Hampshire to 97.3 percent in California and Georgia.

The direct observation survey also included driver use of electronic devices, encompassing both talking with a handheld or hands-free device and/or typing. The rate was relatively unchanged at 7.5 percent. Last year it was 7.6 percent.

The NHTSA requires states to conduct annual seat belt observation surveys to determine belt usage.