Missouri drivers are dying in automobile accidents at increased rate because of their failure to wear seat belts. According to a recently published Missouri Department of Transportation press release, a recent survey released by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety showed that only 77 percent of Missouri residents wear their seat belts whenever they’re in a car. This number is well below the 2006 national average of 81 percent.
According to the director of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Division, “The survey shows that Missourians have not changed their seat belt usage significantly over the last five years, and that’s disturbing. People are dying needlessly by failing to simply buckle up.” Seat belt percentages have ranged from 73 percent to 77 percent in the past several years.
As I have previously written, Missouri has been contemplating a seat belt law that would allow police to pull a driver over and ticket them just for a seat belt violation. The current law only allows police officers to ticket someone for a seat belt violation if they pull the person over for some other infraction. If the new law is enacted, it is estimated based on the increases in seat belt usage in states with similar laws seat belt belt use in Missouri could increase by roughly 11 percent and save approximately 90 lives each year in the Missouri.
Every time I read the paper about a automobile accident fatality in Missouri, Illinois or any other state I look to see it the deceased was wearing a seat belt. I know as a personal injury lawyer that modern cars are designed to have safety features for persons wearing seat belts. These safety features include front, side, and side curtain air bags, pillars designed to keep the roof from crushing in a roll over accident, and most of all wearing a seat belt will keep occupants from being ejected from cars.
Statistics in Missouri revealed that approximately 69 percent of the 1,096 people that died in Missouri car crashes last year were not wearing a seat belt. Based on an analysis of traffic accidents, anyone involved in a traffic accident has a 1 in 31 chance of dying if they were not wearing a seat belt, however, if the passenger was wearing a a seat belt the chance of dying decreases 1 chance in 1,300.
As for the dividing line between genders, the study showed that 82 percent of women wear their seat belts while only 76 percent of men wear theirs. Teens and pickup truck drivers tend to wear their seat belts the least. Pickup truck drivers only wear theirs 66 percent of the time while only 61 percent of teens buckle up. Within past years, teens have been the group to be least likely to buckle up when either driving or being in a car at all.
On a better note, the numbers of people wearing their seat belts has gone up in general. Back in 1998, only about 60 percent of drivers did not wear their seat belts while the current number is number is up to 77 percent this year.
Source: MDOT. “Missouri Seatbelt Use Remains Below National Average.” http://www.modot.org/newsandinfo/District0News.shtml?action=displaySSI&newsId=12984