The government says about 45 million Americans are not buckling up in their cars. The Transportation Department released its estimate of seat belt use on Monday as it kicked off the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. The department says about 84 percent of motorists wear seat belts, an all-time high.

But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says thousands of motorists are still dying each year because they don’t buckle up. He says an average of 38 unbelted people a day are killed in motor vehicle crashes.
The “Click It or Ticket” campaign is running from May 24 through June 6. More than 10,000 police agencies will enforce seat belt laws. The message will be reinforced with $8 million in national advertising.
The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies will kick off the statewide Click it or Ticket seat belt enforcement today at 1:30 p.m. with a large seatbelt display and a challenge from Mayor John Hickenlooper to drivers and passengers. State and local law enforcement will be out in force during the nationwide “Click it or Ticket” mobilization to buckle down on those not wearing their seat belts.
Who is not buckling up? The NHTSA reports:

  • Teens — In 2008, 70 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants 13 to 15 years old killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up — the highest percentage of all age groups.
  • Young Adults — When comparing occupants 21 and older in fatal motor vehicle crashes, the age groups least likely to wear their seat belts are 21- to 24-year-olds and 25- to 34-year-olds. Among passenger vehicle occupants 21 to 34 who were killed in crashes from 2004-2008, 65 percent were not buckled up.
  • Men — Men are less likely than women to buckle up. This is especially true of young men. In 2008, 60 percent of male passenger vehicle occupant fatalities were unrestrained, compared to 45 percent for females.
  • Pickup drivers and passengers — Pickup truck drivers and passengers continue to have lower seat belt usage rates than occupants of other passenger vehicles. In 2008, 68 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in traffic crashes were NOT buckled up. Approximately 62 percent of sport utility vehicle occupants who died were not wearing their seat belts.
  • Nighttime drivers — According to NHTSA, of the 12,671 passenger vehicle occupants who died in motor vehicle crashes between the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. in 2008, nearly two-thirds (64%) were NOT wearing seat belts — compared to less than half (45%) of the passenger vehicle occupants killed during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.
  • Rural areas — In 2008, 56 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants in rural areas were unrestrained, while 52 percent of those killed in urban areas were unrestrained.

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