The Seat Belt Use in North Dakota Report conducted in June 2011, showed that 76.6% of North Dakotans are buckling up, compared to 74.8% in 2010, but still down from the all-time high of 82.2% in 2007. Cass County’s seatbelt usage is at 86%, up from 85.3% in 2010.
In North Dakota, males were less likely than females to wear seatbelts (66.2% vs. 80.9%). This trend of higher female use rates holds for each vehicle type as well. Male seat belt use rates were observed to be anywhere from 8% to 31% lower than female use rates for each county surveyed. Van occupants had the highest seat belt use rate at 83.5% followed by SUVs (79.6%), automobiles (75.4%), and pickups (59.8%).
The 2011 survey was based on a random probability sample of 16 North Dakota counties and 319 observation sites developed for and approved by NHTSA. Trained observers tracked seat belt use for 16,390 drivers and 4,104 passengers, for a total of 20,494 vehicle occupants.
Safe Communities Coordinator Robyn Litke states that although the Cass County seat belt usage rate is high, there is still room for improvement. “We’re pleased that every year we are seeing an increase in seat belt usage, but Safe Communities would like to see an even higher rate. We challenge everyone who works, plays, lives or studies in our community to buckle up on every trip, every time.”
Reasons stated for not using seat belts include: short trips, driving/riding in town, and good driving conditions. Some motorists feel it is a personal choice/freedom/right to not wear a seat belt and that it will not affect anyone else if they do not wear it. Some also feel that no one has the right to make them wear it.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a national average seat belt use rate of 85% for 2010.
Seat Belt Usage Reports for both Cass County and North Dakota can be found at www.mysafecommunity.org.