Washington drivers rank among highest nationwide for buckling up
September 23, 2010
NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 23, 2010
Washington drivers and passengers buckle up more often than almost anyone else in the United States.
The information comes from a survey released Tuesday by the state Traffic Safety Commission. The seat-belt use rate among Washington residents has climbed to 97.6 percent — among the highest in the nation.
The rate inched upward 1.2 percent from last year.
“These last few percentage points represent people who have simply not gotten the message about the value of seat belts,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a news release. “It appears that enforcement is the only way to win their compliance, and we will not hesitate to use that tool.”
Troopers cite about 47,000 people each for failing to buckle up on Washington roadways.
Each year, a nationwide observational seat belt survey is conducted. Observers recorded seat belt use by 94,436 vehicle drivers and passengers during the 2010 Washington survey. The team conducted the survey statewide on a variety of road types following research protocols established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The closer we get to 100 percent seat belt use, the more difficult it becomes to realize higher use rates,” Traffic Safety Commission Director Lowell Porter said in the release. “To jump from 96.4 to 97.6 percent is truly a significant improvement that moves Washington closer to its goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.”
The highway safety plan, named Target Zero, aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries statewide during the next 20 years.
In recent years the seat belt use rate in Washington has been:
- 2005 — 95.2 percent
- 2006 — 96.3 percent
- 2007 — 96.4 percent
- 2008 — 96.5 percent
- 2009 — 96.4 percent
- 2010 — 97.6 percent