While safety belts have been required in cars since 1968, getting drivers and passengers to wear them consistently is another story. In 1984, New York became the first state to require vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. In the ensuing years, the other 49 states followed suit. However, a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Allstate Foundation has found that an alarming number of teens are not wearing their safety belts – and suffering deadly consequences as a result.
The report, Getting It To Click: Connecting Teens and Safety Belts, finds that more than half of teen drivers killed in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt and that number has increased by six percent over the last three years. For teen passengers killed in collisions, the numbers are even worse; they use their seatbelts almost 20 percent less. To combat this growing issue, GHSA and the Allstate Foundation have examined teen seat belt programs across the country and included the elements of the most effective programs in the report.
The report highlights the following elements of initiatives that are successful in encouraging teens to buckle up:
Effective laws and aggressive primary enforcement
Peer-to-peer safe driving messaging and communication
Parental behavior and involvement
Social media messaging and engagement
Competition and prize incentives
Culturally competent messaging and tactics for diverse audiences
More than half of teen drivers killed in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt and that number has increased by six percent over the last three years. – Getting It To Click: Connecting Teens and Safety Belts
“Crashes are already the leading cause of death for teens, and it is particularly disturbing to see the percentage of unbelted teen drivers and passengers in fatalities continue to rise,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “It is imperative that we find out what works to make teens understand that using a seat belt may save their life and find ways to convince them to buckle up every time they get in the car.”
For more information on what states are doing to increase teen seat belt use and recommendations for future programs, view the report online.
In 2009 more than 214 Washingtonians lost their lives in speed and red-light running related collisions – more than half of those fatalities occurred at an intersection. Thanks to red-light safety cameras, driver behavior is now improving in the state of Washington.