Seat Belt Safety Statistics

Seatbelts can help to save lives. They are important safety features that, like air bags, help to protect a driver or passenger in a collision and minimize potential injuries. 

When a driver or passenger does not wear a seatbelt in the car, they expose themselves to the possibility of being severely injured in ways that would be prevented by wearing a seatbelt.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing your seatbelt as a front-seat passenger can limit your chances of moderate to fatal injury by 50% and of dying by 45%. On average, 47% of people who are killed in automobile collisions weren’t wearing their seat belts.

Seat Belt Safety Statistics (2020)

In 2020, the national seat belt usage rate was 90%. This is up 20% from 2000 when the usage rate was right at 70%. An estimated 15,000 people were saved by wearing a seat belt in 2020, which is thanks in part to the highest usage rate ever (NHTSA).

However, 9% of Americans claimed to not wear a seat belt while driving short distances in 2020. No matter how far you drive, you should be wearing a seat belt at all times. Safety is a top priority even if you’re not going that far.

Individual State Seat Belt Laws

Each state has their own seat belt law. They are split up into the following categories:

  • Primary enforcement laws for all occupants: 20 states—Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
  • Primary front-seat belt law and secondary rear-seat belt law: Five states—Alabama, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey and North Carolina.
  • Secondary laws for all occupants: Six states—Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Vermont and Wyoming.
  • Primary front-seat-only belt laws: Nine states—Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. 
  • Secondary front-seat-only belt laws: Nine states—Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Virginia.
  • New Hampshire is the only state which doesn’t have a required seat belt law.

It is of utmost importance for drivers and passengers to wear their seat belts. Seat belts are proven safety devices that can and will save lives in an automobile collision.