JEFFERSON CITY – With seat belt usage in Missouri steadily rising over the past three years, highway safety professionals are hoping for continued progress and eventually seeing the state reach the national average of 90.7%. The most recent survey in Missouri conducted in 2019 indicated a usage of 87.7%.
To help encourage increased usage of seat belts, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is joining with state and local law enforcement May 18-31 for the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. “Safety belts decrease your risk of dying in a crash by 45%,” said MoDOT Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “Last year alone, 880 lives were lost in Missouri crashes—64% of those required to be restrained were not at the time of the crash. If everyone buckled up, hundreds of lives would be saved in Missouri each year.”
The Coalition is asking drivers and passengers to ensure all occupants are buckled before driving, including having all children in the appropriate restraints. Missouri’s child safety seat survey revealed that when drivers were not buckled up, 33 percent of children were not restrained either, but when the driver was buckled up, 98 percent of children were also restrained. To ensure safety, make sure kids use a car seat that is appropriate for their height and weight. Infants should travel in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until they grow out of the rear-facing car seat’s height and weight requirements. Children should travel riding in the back seat of the vehicle until age 13.
The Coalition also wants to remind drivers to slow down and put away their phones while behind the wheel to reduce the risk of a crash. “Even though a seat belt greatly increases your odds of surviving a crash, practicing safe driving behaviors can help prevent a crash from occurring in the first place. Please slow down, buckle up, and put your phone down,” said Hood.
To check that your car seat and child are restrained correctly, please contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area by calling 800-800-2358.