Memorial Day weekend is upon us and that means it's time for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA) annual Click It or Ticket campaign. It kicked off Monday and runs through June 4th, 2023. The campaign serves as a reminder to wear your seatbelt at all times when in a vehicle either as a driver or a passenger. Seatbelts save lives and taking your seatbelt off even briefly can result in tragedy, as you'll read about in the story of 16-year-old Kailee Mills.
Click It or Ticket Campaign
State and local law enforcement agencies nationwide will work together during a heightened enforcement period from May 22 through June 4 to protect drivers and passengers from the risks associated with riding in a vehicle unbelted. The campaign focuses on safety education, strong laws, and law enforcement support. This year NHTSA also launched a new TV ad for the campaign:
NHTSA Seatbelt Stats
NHTSA has also released a new Occupant Protection Traffic Safety report. It shows that pickup truck drivers and passengers have had the highest percentage of unrestrained fatalities across all vehicle types for nearly 20 years.
- In 2021, 60% of pickup truck drivers and 64% of pickup truck passengers killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts. This group continues to be at the forefront of programs to increase seat belt use.
Unbelted passenger vehicle occupants don’t fare much better. The number of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes from 2018 to 2021 has increased every year. In 2018, there were 9,545 unrestrained fatalities. In 2021, 11,813 passenger vehicle occupants who died in a crash (45%) were not wearing a seat belt.
Researchers say data shows that over the years, a greater percentage of unrestrained fatalities occur at night than during the day.
- In 2021, 57% of people who died in nighttime crashes were unrestrained, compared to 43% who died during the day.
- The national seat belt use rate in 2022 was 91.6%.
- Forty-nine percent of all front-seat passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2021 were unrestrained, but 57% of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.
- Among young adults 18 to 34 killed while riding in passenger vehicles in 2021, more than half (59%) were completely unrestrained — one of the highest percentages for all age groups.
- Men make up the majority of those killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In 2021, 66% of the 26,325 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed were men.
- Men also wear their seat belts at a lower rate than women do — 54% of men killed in crashes were unrestrained, compared to 42% of women killed in crashes.
According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS), federal standards specify that seat belt reminders must include an audible signal that lasts for 4-8 seconds total and a visual alert that lasts at least 60 seconds when the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled at ignition.
Additionally some automakers have developed systems that will keep audio volume low until your seatbelt is fastened or won't let you shift out of park until it is fastened.
IIHS Seatbelt Tests
The IIHS started testing seat belt reminder systems last year. In its latest study of minivans, researchers say the Toyota Sienna's seat belt system stood out from the rest. The Sienna was the only vehicle to earn a good rating in the IIHS seat belt reminder evaluation. Three other 2023 minivans, the Kia Carnival, Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey, earn acceptable, marginal and poor ratings, respectively.
Last year in an IIHS evaluation of pickup trucks, the group found that out of 10 evaluated, only one — the Toyota Tundra crew cab — earned a good rating, while five received poor ratings.