FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Buel C. Young||MVA External Affairs|
Seat Belt Use Saving Lives in Maryland
More drivers and passengers are buckling their belts.
GLEN BURNIE, MD (August 7, 2014) - According to a 2014 roadside observational survey, more than 92 percent of drivers and front seat passengers in Maryland are wearing their seat belt while traveling on Maryland’s roadways, an increase from the 90.7 percent observed in 2013. The Maryland seat belt rise eclipses the national rate of 87 percent in 2013. Last year, Maryland experienced the lowest number of traffic-related fatalities in half a century, and a major role in reducing injuries and fatalities from crashes is buckling your seat belt.
“I am very encouraged by the fact that more people are using their seat belts,” said Milt Chaffee, the MVA Administrator and Governor O’Malley’s Highway Safety Representative. “Safety is one of the MVA’s highest priorities. The proper use of seat belts and child passenger safety seats has proven to be incredibly effective in preventing injuries and deaths.”
Maryland’s seat belt usage results were obtained from more than 50,000 observations conducted at 140 sites. Passenger car occupants were observed to buckle up 93 percent of the time, while pickup truck drivers and passengers buckle up less at a little over 86 percent of the time. Smaller, local roadways were observed to have a lower seat belt use rate than highways.
The biggest increase in seat belt use was seen in St. Mary’s County where rates went up by eight percent from 2013’s observation period. Increases were also seen in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Slight decreases were recorded in Calvert and Carroll Counties, as well as Baltimore City, and a decrease of more than four percent was recorded in Washington County.
Whether you are traveling on a road where there is a tendency to see higher speeds or a rural road, a seat belt can mean the difference between life and death,” said Chaffee. “It only takes a few seconds to put on a seat belt. On top of potentially saving a life, I’d rather see people keep the $83 for a seat belt ticket in their pocket.”
Maryland’s seat belt observation came on the heels of the state’s participation in the Click it or Ticket media and enforcement campaign. In May, the Click it or Ticket program used media and highly targeted educational efforts to encourage motorists to buckle up in all seats, every ride, day and night. In 2014, traffic safety advocates conducted a rollover display as a part of Click it or Ticket that demonstrated the impact to the unbelted. (http://ow.ly/zynko).
“We’re out to save lives, not write tickets,” stated Thomas J. Gianni, Chief of the MVA’s Maryland Highway Safety Office. “Between 2009 and 2013, almost 600 people, who were not wearing seat belts, died in crashes. If they had been properly belted, it’s estimated that nearly half of those people would be alive today.”
When used, seat belts reduce the risk of death to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and injury by 50 percent. Those numbers are even higher for light-truck occupants, where seat belts reduce the risk of death by 60 percent and injury by 65 percent.
“Lives are at stake every time we get in our vehicles,” stated Chaffee. “I ask that everyone please do their part and buckle up. Make sure your children are riding in the proper booster or child safety seat. Together, we can get to 100 percent belt use as we strive towards zero fatalities on Maryland roadways.”
NOTE: Click it or Ticket is a major component of Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign, which focuses on promoting seat belt use while also preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving, and distracted driving. For more information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, visit http://www.towardzerodeathsmd.com/.