The status of seatbelt use

Injuries that occur in motor vehicle accidents are more severe when the accident victims are not wearing seatbelts. While it does not reduce the level of negligence that caused the collision, seatbelts can mean the difference between minor and severe, if not fatal injuries.

The federal government established lofty standards for seatbelt use in 2010. Their objective was to have 92 percent of Americas literally restraining themselves in motor vehicles by 2020, whether they were driving or riding in cars.

A Mixed Bag Of Seatbelt Statistics

With data from 2012, the University of Washington shows that the goal was still out of reach.

Counties in Maryland joined parts of Texas and portions of the West Coast in achieving the benchmark. Other areas of the country are close to the government’s preferred 2020 target while others are dangerously lagging far behind.

The overall trend shows that higher seatbelt use occurs in urban areas while those residing in rural parts of the country use them less frequently. Also, gender makes a slight difference in use with 89.6 of women wearing seatbelts versus 81.9 percent of men.

The Role Of Primary Versus Secondary Seatbelt Laws

State seatbelt laws may be playing a role in drivers and passengers choosing to click the buckles of seatbelts, particularly if they are considered primary or secondary enforcement by law.

Maryland mandates seatbelts regardless of where someone is seated. The state’s primary seatbelt law means that an officer can pull over a vehicle with drivers or one of the backseat passengers under 16 solely for not wearing one without witnessing the violation.

Maryland’s secondary seatbelt law involves backseat passengers over 16. Specifically, an officer who has pulled over a car for another violation can issue a ticket for that initial infraction and the subsequently discovered seatbelt violation.

Nationally, 85.9 of Americans regularly wear seatbelts, according to the study. While it represents a healthy majority, 14 percent still fail to buckle up, accounting for half of motor vehicle fatalities.

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Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne is an accomplished lawyer who practices in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He brings more than 30 years of experience and a long record of success to each case. His law practice is distinguished by careful preparation and thorough analysis of each case...

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