Florida safety belt usage reaches record high

According to a press release from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), safety belt use in Florida has reached an all-time high of 90.6 percent. Florida law states that all drivers and all front seat passengers must wear a safety belt. All children under the age of 18 must wear a safety belt (or be buckled into a car seat) regardless of where they are seated. The FDOT has been conducting an annual survey since 1999, when safety belt use was reported to be 58.7 percent. According the June 2018 Safety Belt Use in Florida Final Report, people are most likely to wear their safety belt on interstates (92.9 percent), and least likely to wear them on local roads (88.3 percent). The report also found that occupants of pickup trucks were less likely to wear safety belts (81.7 percent) than were occupants of other types of vehicles.

The report indicated that women were more likely to wear a safety belt than men, and occupants between the ages of 16 and 34 were less likely than younger or older occupants to wear a belt.

According to the FDOT, the first safety belt law in Florida went into effect in 1986. It was considered a secondary law, meaning you could not be stopped specifically because you were not wearing a safety belt, but if you were stopped for some other violation, you could be ticketed for not having your safety belt on. At the time that law went into effect, safety belt usage was 22 percent. Click it or Ticket, which began in 2003, along with other educational programs, has increased Florida’s safety belt usage rates.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, “I’m proud of the work FDOT does each day to keep Florida residents and visitors safe on our roadways.”

FDOT Secretary Mike Dew said: “Safety is the number one priority at the Florida Department of Transportation. We recognize the integral role safety belts play in protecting drivers and passengers in a crash. Every day lives are saved and people avoid serious injury in Florida thanks to increased safety belt usage.”

Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways to prevent serious injury if you are involved in an accident. The FDOT estimates that 13,941 people owe their lives to the fact that they were wearing a safety belt when they had a car accident in 2015.

To view the report, visit fdot.gov/info/CO/news/newsreleases/2018-Florida-Safety-Belt-Use-Final-Report.pdf.

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