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Directions in Highway Safety, Summer 2009 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
[624 KB, 12 pgs.]

Summer 2009 | Vol. 12 | No. 2

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NHTSA Details Lives Saved By Helmet and Belt Use

NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) has provided new data about the number of lives saved in 2008 and the number that could have been saved if safety precautions had been taken. According to the data, 1,829 lives were saved by motorcycle helmets, while an additional 823 motorcyclists would have been saved if they were helmeted. For occupants 13 and older, 2,546 lives were saved by frontal air bags. Another key finding is that 714 lives (ages 18–20) were saved by the 21-yearold minimum drinking age laws.

Motorcycle Helmet

A large focus of the NHTSA study was aimed at restraint use and its effectiveness. In their findings, an estimated 13,250 lives were saved in 2008 due to seat belts. This brought lives saved by seat belt use to 75,000 during a five-year period between 2004 and 2008. Unfortunately, 4,152 more lives would have been saved in 2008 if all unrestrained passengers (older than 5) involved in crashes would have buckled up.

NCSA also reiterated demographic data from The National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS). NSUBS is the only probability-based nationwide child restraint survey that collects data on race and ethnicity. NSUBS found that Hispanic children 1 to 12 years old have significantly lower restraint use rates (which includes the use of front-facing child seats, booster seats, and seat belts) compared to non-Hispanic children in the same age groups. Their research also found that restraint use seems to be highest among White and Asian non-Hispanic children and typically lowest among African-American non-Hispanic children. Still, restraint use for African-American children, ages 4 to 7, increased from 73 percent in 2007 to 84 percent in 2008, which NSUBS says is statistically significant. There were no differences in restraint usage between the sexes.

The research is available online along with detailed tables. Visit www-nrd. nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811153.PDF for demographics for 2008 restraint use and minimum drinking age laws. See www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811148.PDF for demographics on child restraint use in 2008.