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Michigan motorists encouraged to buckle up as seat belt use remains just under 93 percent

Michigan’s seat belt use rate has increased slightly, from 92.6 percent in 2021 to 92.9 percent in 2022, according to results from a grant-funded direct observation study conducted by Michigan State University.

“Seat belts are the foundation of every effective traffic safety strategy,” said Alicia Sledge, interim director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).  “We continually remind drivers and passengers of all ages to buckle up, every trip, every time.”

The survey results come just a few weeks after the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center confirmed that there were 1,131 traffic fatalities in Michigan during 2021, the highest total since 2005.

To help address the situation, the OHSP is funding a statewide campaign through July 31 to enforce seat belt, speed limit and impaired-driving laws. The OHSP also has produced two new commercials, titled "Perfect World" and "Something Stops You."  Both ads focus on the importance of seat belts.  

Michigan’s highest belt use rate was 97.9 percent in 2009. Every 1 percent increase in seat belt use means an estimated 10 fewer traffic deaths and 100 fewer serious injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the nationwide seat belt use rate was 90.4 percent in 2021. The NHTSA requires states to conduct annual seat belt observation surveys to determine belt usage.

Michigan’s 2022 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 of drivers using an electronic device was 6.1 percent, down slightly from the 6.4 percent rate in 2021.