Seat belt see, seat belt do: Md. survey shows passengers wear seat belts when drivers do

Setting a good example by using your seat belt could help save lives, according to a survey done by Maryland transportation officials.

The 2019 Roadside Observation Seat Belt Survey found that passengers use seat belts 93% of the time when the driver also is belted, and only 40% of the time when the driver is unbelted.

The survey, conducted by the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration, observed 32,433 vehicles in 13 jurisdictions across Maryland.

Another finding from the survey shows that seat belt use increased slightly from 90.3% in 2018 to 90.4% in 2019.

A AAA news release said that nearly 94% of Americans disapprove of someone driving without a seat belt. That’s according to the latest Traffic Safety Culture Index from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“One of our goals is to make sure that every person in a vehicle in Maryland is buckled up. Every age, in every seat, every trip and every time,” Timothy Kearns, director of the Maryland Highway Safety Office MDOT MVA, told the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board in a briefing on Maryland’s efforts to improve highway safety.

So far in 2019 in Prince George’s County alone, at least 10 people, including five children who were not buckled up, have died in crashes.

seat belt campaign
A new campaign reminds Maryland teen drivers to wear their seat belts. (Courtesy Maryland Department of Transportation)

Multiple seat belt safety campaigns are planned, including “Seat Belts Look Good on You.”

Under this initiative, those between 16 to 19 years old who take and pass the road skills test on the third Friday of the month during the school year will receive a free “seat belt” necktie or scarf. They can get one while supplies last at full-service MDOT MVA branches.

“Unfortunately, far too many Marylanders are still not buckling up on local roads or in the back seat. This is risky behavior. Despite the perceived danger, risk of arrest, and personal and social disapproval, American drivers report engaging in a number of problematic driving behaviors,” AAA Mid-Atlantic John B. Townsend II said in a news release.

“In fact, 17% of drivers confessed to having driven without wearing a seat belt at least once in the past 30 days prior to the survey,” he said.

Read the Maryland Department of Transportation presentation below:

Moving Maryland Toward Zero Deaths by wtopweb on Scribd

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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