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GHSA News Release

November 15, 2012

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942 x130,

Record High Seat Belt Use Applauded But More Work Remains

Statement for Attribution to Kendell Poole, Chairman, Governors Highway Safety Association

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the results of the 2012 National Occupant Protection Use Survey, which indicated that the national seat belt use rate has reached a record high – 86 percent. We are delighted with this news and see it as another important milestone in the state and federal highway safety partnership.

I want to thank NHTSA and state highway safety offices across the nation for their leadership in this achievement. Additionally, we could not do this work without the tireless and lifesaving work of our partners in state and local law enforcement. Despite being strained by retirements, budget cutting and increased responsibilities, law enforcement remains dedicated to reducing dangerous behavior on our roadways and making sure we all arrive home safely.

While today's announcement is good news, more work remains. Eighteen states still lack critical primary seat belt laws. These allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. If these states were to pass primary laws, they would likely experience a dramatic increase in seat belt use. In 2011, NHTSA noted that states and territories with primary enforcement had observed front-seat occupant use rates 11 percentage points higher than states with secondary enforcement (87 vs. 76 percent).

Today's report is a timely reminder to all of us to buckle up as we take to the roadways during the busy holiday season. A seat belt is the best defense against a drunk or distracted driver.

Increasing seat belt use will continue to be a focus of GHSA, as no other highway safety countermeasure has been proven to be as effective as the simple habit of buckling up.

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at @GHSAHQ.