Campaign encourages seat belt use,
targets unrestrained vehicle occupants
Wearing seat belts protects lives, reduces serious injury and saves Idaho money so ITD is supporting law enforcement efforts to increase seat belt usage during a statewide seat belt enforcement campaign that continues through May 31.
More than 50 Idaho law enforcement agencies will dedicate hours to educate citizens and to strictly enforce the state’s seat belt law during the 14-day period that includes Memorial Day weekend.
Last year, 105 unrestrained people were killed in Idaho traffic crashes. Idaho law requires all vehicle occupants to be properly restrained no matter where they are seated. Fines for violating Idaho’s safety restraint laws range from $10 to $69.
“Wearing your seat belt costs nothing, and yet it’s the single most effective traffic safety device ever invented,” said Mary Hunter, Highway Safety Manager. “Failing to wear a seat belt puts you at risk for serious injury or death. Two-thirds of motor vehicle occupants killed in Idaho traffic crashes last year were not using a seat belt. According to seat belt effectiveness studies by NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), half of the victims could be alive today had they simply buckled up.”
Decisions to not buckle up also cost Idahoans money. U.S. Department of Transportation studies show that seat belt use in Idaho saved $268 million in comprehensive costs in 2007. However, the lack of seat belt use by approximately one in four Idahoans costs citizens of the state nearly $48 million in preventable emergency, medical and social costs.
Recent U.S. DOT estimates suggest that 1,652 lives could be saved and 22,372 serious injuries prevented each year on U.S. roadways if the seat belt use rates rose to 90 percent in every state. The estimated national seat belt use rate 2008 is 83 percent, while Idaho’s seat belt use rate dropped to 77 percent last year.
“The 105 people killed are not just numbers. They were family members that didn’t come home at the end of the day. They leave behind families who mourn their loss. The Idaho Transportation Department hopes that all Idahoans will get in the habit buckling up,” Hunter stated.