A recent survey says Missourians are wearing seatbelts more, but the state still lags behind the national average.
Among all Missouri drivers, seatbelt usage is up 3 percent to 79 percent compared to last year. Some groups are dragging those numbers down, however.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sandra Hentges says teen drivers are only buckling up 67 percent of the time, slightly up from last year. She notes at some school districts that figure is as low as 28 to 34 percent. She hopes the Battle of the Belt competition starting up again next week will help drive those numbers up. It pits High Schools against one another to record the highest number of students buckling in.
Another group for which the usage number is low is pickup truck drivers. They log the lowest percentage at 66. In 2010, 87 percent of pickup truck drivers killed in accidents were unbuckled.
The national average is 85 percent of all drivers overall buckling in. Hentges notes that among the states with higher percentages than Missouri are all those which have enacted a primary seatbelt law. 32 states have such a law, that allows authorities to pull a driver over for not wearing a seatbelt. In Missouri and 16 other states where a secondary law is in place, drivers are legally required to wear seatbelts but can not be stopped for failing to.
The annual survey took 127,720 observations of drivers and passengers in 460 locations in both urban and rural counties. The usage rate fluctuated between 75 and 77 percent between 2004 and 2010.
For more information on safe driving, visit savemolives.com.