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Study: Increasing Seatbelt Use Could Save More than $5 Billion, Reduce Deaths

Posted on 15 May 2009

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a study that an increase in the use of seat belts to nine of 10 car passengers could save more than $5 billion a year while also reducing deaths.

Boosting the rate of seat belt use to 90 percent from 83 percent would cut $5.2 billion in costs related to productivity loss, insurance, health care and emergency services, according to the study released today. In addition, 1,652 lives could be saved and 22,372 serious injuries avoided from greater use of seat belts, the agency said.

The highway safety agency released the study as it prepares for a “Click it or Ticket” campaign, where police step up enforcement of seat belt laws while safety advertisements raise awareness of the penalties associated with failing to buckle up. The campaign will run May 18-31.

“Wearing a seat belt costs nothing and yet it’s the single most effective traffic safety device ever invented,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an e-mailed statement. “By failing to wear your seat belt, you not only risk serious injury or death, you also risk getting a ticket.”

U.S. highway deaths fell to 37,313 last year, the fewest since the Transportation Department started tracking the data in 1975, the agency said April 6, crediting an increased seat belt use for the decline in fatalities.