Buckle up. It’s a phrase used over and over by highway safety officials, but a phrase that doesn’t seem to be getting through to every Missourian.
Results from the annual seat belt use survey have come in and Melissa Black with the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety says it’s not very good news.
“No, overall it’s really not good news,” Black tells the Missourinet. “We’ve gone down a little bit in our overall seat belt usage rate to 76% and that is several percentage points lower than the national average which is 84%.”
State officials joined with the Missouri Safety Center in June this year to observe 126,419 drivers and passengers in 460 locations in both rural and urban counties. The survey discovered 76% of Missourians were wearing their seat belts, down one percentage point from 2009. The Coalition for Roadway Safety points out that of the 878 people who died last year in traffic wrecks, two-thirds of them weren’t wearing seat belts.
Black says the Coalition believes that only a primary seat belt law will increase usage in Missouri.
“That is the one major thing that we have not been able to get passed in Missouri that will cost us nothing and that will make a dramatic difference in our overall usage rates and, I think, directly correlate into lower fatality rates in our state,” according to Black.
Under current law, you can get a ticket for not wearing your seat belt, but only if you are pulled over for another violation. The legislature has been more than a little resistant the past few sessions to change the law.