Survey: SC seat belt usage sets record high

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) The seat belt usage in South Carolina has increased significantly, according to a new survey from the University of South Carolina.

According to the report, nine out of 10 drivers in SC wear their seat belt, the highest recorded usage rate in state history.

"This record-setting rate will result in more lives being saved on our highways," said Director of SCDPS, Leroy Smith. "The 90.5 percent usage rate shows just how much the hard work of the state's law enforcement community and public safety advocates have paid off.

The survey was based on traffic counts conducted in 16 counties and focused on drivers and passengers who used shoulder style safety belts in June. South Carolina's rate surpasses the current national seat belt usage rate of 84 percent, according to the report.

"While SCDPS is pleases with the results of this year's survey, we recognize there are still too many people who are not complying with the law," said Smith. "We know crash statistics that many of these people also are drunk drivers, speeders or reckless in other ways. We also know wearing a safety belt is the best defense against reckless drivers."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regular seat belt usage is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in car accidents. When worn correctly, seat belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal  injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUV's and minivans,  according to NHTSA.

Raising the safety belt usage rate each year remains a major goal of SCDPS, according to Smith.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.