OHS Announces Delaware Seat Belt Use Rate

Date Posted: Friday, October 18th, 2013
Categories:  Office of Highway Safety Safety and Homeland Security

Dover – Delaware Office of Highway Safety officials are pleased to announce an increase Delaware’s statewide seat belt use rate.   Results from observational seat belt surveys conducted in June have revealed that the state’s 2013 statewide usage rate is 92%.    This is a significant increase from the 2012 statewide seat belt use rate of 88%.  The national 2012 seat belt use rate is 86%.

County seat belt rates have also increased. Kent County saw the highest increase from 79% in 2012 to 92% this year, New Castle County seat belt rate is now 90% compared to 87% in 2012 and Sussex County increased from 90% in 2012 to 93% for 2013.

“We are extremely happy with this increase in the state’s seat belt use rate particularly since we, in partnership with law enforcement statewide, and our partners in the healthcare, public safety and corporate communities, have worked so hard each year to keep increasing our usage rate,” said Jana Simpler, Director for the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.  “Higher seat belt use rates generally translate into more lives saved and that is always our ultimate goal.”

Sadly, the overall increase in seat belt use is not being reflected in this year’s fatal crash statics.  Since January 1st of this year, of the 41 drivers and passengers killed in Delaware motor vehicle crashes, 20 (or 49%) of them were not wearing seat belts.  Unfortunately, these deaths typically involve other risky behaviors, including aggressive and impaired driving. Comparatively, at this time in 2012, 20 (or 43%) of the then 47 drivers and passengers killed were not wearing seat belts.

“While our surveys show more Delawareans are buckling up, nearly half of those killed on Delaware roadways this year were not. We are encouraging drivers to wear their seat belts for every trip and to make certain their passengers are belted too. Buckle up, not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones.  It’s an easy habit to adopt,” Lewis D. Schiliro, Secretary of Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Delaware is one of only 16 states to have a primary seat belt law requiring drivers and all passengers, including those in the back seat, to wear a seat belt. An officer can pull over a driver if he sees any person not wearing a seat belt.  The seat belt ticket in Delaware with fine and fees is $86.50 and is issued to the driver no matter who is unbuckled in the vehicle.

Get the facts:

  • Did you know that 45% of all occupant fatalities in Delaware last year were individuals not wearing a seat belt and that fewer than 1/3 of Delaware’s unrestrained fatals occur during the daytime.
  • Wearing a seat belt decreases your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a crash by approximately 50%.
  • Hospital data shows that unbelted occupants in crashes are 3 times more likely to require a hospital stay. On average, hospital costs for an unbelted crash victim are 55% higher than those for a belted crash victim.
  • Strong seat belt laws protect families.  When parents are buckled up, 90% of the time their children are too.

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