NC Safety Belt Usage
Drivers and front seat passengers of any age and rear seat passengers less than age sixteen are covered by North Carolina occupant restraint laws. However, ALL occupants in ALL seating positions should ride buckled up to help protect all occupants.
In 2005, North Carolina’s seat belt usage rate was 86.7 percent, an increase from the previous year’s rate of 86.1 percent. One reason for the increase in the usage rate over the years is the development and implementation of “Click It or Ticket.” Launched in 1993, “Click It or Ticket” aims to increase seat belt and child restraint use rates through increased enforcement of North Carolina's seat belt law. In collaboration with several state agencies, “Click It or Ticket” integrates highly visible enforcement with increased public education of the law itself as well as the consequences for disobeying it. HSRC has been instrumental in developing, helping to implement and evaluating the state’s ongoing "Click It or Ticket" program.
There are many documented benefits of North Carolina’s safety belt law and “Click It or Ticket.” As the observed seat belt use of drivers in the state has increased, the percentage of deaths and injuries to restrained occupants has decreased (see chart below). According to a study conducted in 2003, HSRC estimated that raising the seat belt use rate from 65 percent in 1993 to 86.1 percent in 2003 led directly to 1,600 lives saved. Also, according to the N.C. Department of Insurance, in 1994 and 1995 rate requests, North Carolina auto insurers asked for a total of $33 million less than they would have had "Click It or Ticket" not been instituted.
Despite such progress in this area, preventable deaths still occur as a result of unrestrained occupants. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nighttime occupant fatalities rose from 14,048 in 1998 to 15,657 in 2002. Additional research is underway to explore the possible association between decreased belt usage during the evening hours and this increase in fatalities.
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