The Nebraska Department of Transportation seat belt usage rate has increased for the third consecutive year. The newest survey shows Nebraskans seat belt usage is 86%.
The previous high mark was 85% in 2009. It then decreased and leveled off at 79% from 2012-2014. Mark Segerstrom, Road Safety Project Coordinator for the Nebraska Safety Council states, “This is so important to see these rates increase again after a period of decline and no change at all. People frequently don’t understand that an unbuckled passenger in a vehicle increases the chance of injury or fatality by 40% for other occupants of that vehicle.”
Nebraska still lags behind the national standard of 90% usage. This higher rate is primarily due to states having a primary seat belt law, which Nebraska does not have.
The result of an increased usage rate is hopefully a decrease in the number of road injuries and fatalities. The NDOT has also reported that indeed road fatalities have dropped annually from 276 in 2000 to 218 in 2016. Of the 218 fatalities in 2016, eighty-three percent were occupants of passenger vehicles. Sixty-five percent of these fatalities were not wearing a seat belt and 35% were thrown from their vehicle.
Segerstrom reported, “It is well known that when safety belts are worn they reduce the risk of fatality to front-seat passengers by 45% and light truck passengers by 60%.