Seat Belt Use Is On the Rise – But Still Too Low

Experts agree that the most important thing you can do to increase your safety in the event of a car accident in Chicago is to wear your seat belt – not some of the time, not on occasion, but every single time you drive or ride in a car. Seat belts have been designed and engineered with the sole purpose of protecting a vehicle’s occupants from harm when a crash takes place and they do a good job at reducing the risks of deaths or fatalities in collisions.

Good news has emerged on the subject of seat belt usage, according to recently released information by the federal government. Data from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey reveals that 88.5 percent of motorists in the country used seat belts in 2015, an increase from 86.7 percent in 2014.

Several characteristics of the individuals involved had a statistical impact on whether or not they wore a seat belt. Some relevant findings include;

  • 90.4 percent of occupants on expressways wore seat belts while only 84.2 percent of those who used surface streets did;
  • Drivers were slightly more likely to use a seat belt than were front seat passengers at rates of 87.1 percent and 85.5 percent, respectively;
  • Those traveling in heavy traffic used seat belts 90.2 percent of the time, those in moderately dense traffic used seat belts 83.7 percent of the time, and those in light traffic used seat belts 73.8 percent of the time;
  • Occupants in vans and SUVs were the most likely to use seat belts at 89.1 percent while the occupants of cars used seat belts at 88.1 percent and the occupants of pickup trucks only wore seat belts at a rate of 77.2 percent;
  • Use was greater in urban areas (89.6 percent) than rural areas (79.7 percent);
  • Seat belt usage varied regionally with vehicular occupants in the West using their seat belts the most often. Those in the West reported 94.6 percent use, those in the South reported 87.0 percent use, those in the Northeast reported 83.1 percent use, and those in the Midwest reported 82.6 percent use.

Of particular note is that the survey revealed a difference between usage in states where seat belt laws were primary as compared to states where seat belt laws were secondary. In primary law states, a motorist can be pulled over for not using a seat belt without any other infraction at issue. In states where seat belt laws are secondary, a motorist can be ticketed for failing to use a seat belt but cannot be stopped for that infraction alone. Instead, tickets can only be given if the individual is stopped for another reason, like ignoring a traffic light, and a law enforcement officer determines that the individual also broke a state’s seat belt law.

The best thing to do is to prevent as many car accidents in Illinois as possible, avoiding any injuries that would result from them. But as motorists continue to make mistakes behind the wheel, collisions will keep happening so drivers and passengers alike should use seat belts to limit any injuries they may otherwise sustain in a crash.

If you were the victim of a car accident – whether or not you were wearing a seat belt – you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries including any medical expenses you incurred. The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. offer a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation to all victims who call us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (602) 819-5191 and we have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you. If we represent you, we will advance all costs related to your case and we will never charge you a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf.

If your life has been altered by the actions of another driver, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today.

Prior Blog Entry:

E-Cigarette Allegedly Explodes, Injuring User, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published March 3, 2016.


Seat Belt Use in 2015 – Overall Results, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, published February 2016.

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