It’s becoming increasingly safer on the roads. Traffic deaths in 2008 reached a record low and the use of seat belts has been increasing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 37,313 people were killed in car crashes in 2008, down 9.1 percent over the previous year. It is the lowest level of fatalities since 1961. The decline could be attributed to fewer cars on the road and more people taking mass transit instead. Public transportation is at its highest level of ridership in 52 years--an increase of four percent over last year.
Seat belt use continues to climb across the country with Michigan at the highest rate with 97.2 percent. Sixteen states and U.S. territories achieved rates of 90 percent or higher; they include Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Maryland, Iowa, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois, and the District of Columbia.
The states with the lowest seat belt use--all under 70 percent was Massachusetts, Wyoming, and New Hampshire. The data also shows that states with stronger seat belt enforcement laws have higher use rates.
These trends show that increased seat belt use is helping to keep the roads and families safe.