Adrienne Diaczok, MDOT MVA
MDOT MVA Announces Statewide Seat Belt Usage Rates,
Launches Campaign Aimed at Teen Drivers
‘Seat Belts Look Good on You’ Initiative Offers Reward for Passage of Road Skills Test
BALTIMORE, MD (September 19, 2019) – Touting the theme, “Seat Belts Look Good on You,” officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) today announced results of the statewide 2019 Roadside Observation Seat Belt Survey, showing that seat belt usage increased slightly, from 90.3 percent in 2018 to 90.4 percent this year. MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn and Chrissy Nizer, Administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA), also unveiled a campaign being conducted during the 2019-2020 school year to promote seat belt use among teenaged drivers.
“While we’re glad to see a slight improvement from last year, the only acceptable number for seat belts usage is 100 percent,” said Secretary Rahn.
In 2018, 105 people were killed in crashes on Maryland’s roads while not wearing a seat belt. National data shows that seat belt usage tends to be lower among teen drivers. Car crashes are the most common cause of death for people aged 5 to 24. Education is a key component for driver awareness, and MDOT MVA is working to reinforce the importance of wearing seat belts with its youngest drivers.
As part of the “Seat Belts Look Good on You,” campaign, drivers ages 16 to 19 who take and pass the road skills test on the third Friday of the month during the school year will receive a free “seat belt” necktie or scarf. The promotional items will be available at full service MDOT MVA branches while supplies last, beginning September 20. The road skills test is part of the driver’s licensing process.
MDOT MVA’s survey, completed in June, consisted of roadside observations of 32,433 passenger vehicles and trucks in 13 jurisdictions across the state. The survey observed 31,205 drivers and more than 7,600 passengers. In some instances, the driver’s seat belt use could not be determined.
In cases where both the driver and passengers could be observed, the survey found that passengers used seat belts 93 percent of the time when the driver was also belted. Conversely, in vehicles with unbelted drivers, only 40 percent of passengers were buckled up. The survey also showed that while seat belt usage rates among passenger cars increased compared to last year, usage among drivers and passengers in trucks decreased.
“It’s vital that both drivers and passengers wear seat belts, and this year’s survey shows that the driver sets an example for others in the vehicle,” said Administrator Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We should all be mindful to make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up, every seat, every time.”
Officials announced the results at an event Thursday at the MDOT MVA Baltimore City Branch on Reisterstown Road. Also attending were Greg Slater, Administrator of the MDOT State Highway Administration, Jim Ports, Executive Director of the Maryland Transportation Administration, and Dr. Jacques Mather, a trauma surgeon at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center.
“Seat Belts Look Good on You” is a statewide campaign run through the MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office (MHSO) to raise awareness about the benefit of wearing a seat belt to reduce deaths and injuries in a traffic crash. In Maryland, every driver and passenger must wear a seat belt. Children under age 8 must be in a proper booster or child safety seat. Each occupant of a vehicle not wearing a safety belt is subject to an $83 citation.