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The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that California has one of the highest seat belt compliance rates in the nation. The state has a 95.3 percent compliance rate compared to a nationwide average of only 85.0 percent.

The California Highway Patrol has spent the past year focusing on the remaining population with a seat belt safety campaign to encourage all Californians to properly secure themselves and their children inside their vehicle.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that motor vehicle crashes are a major public health problem. Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent.

  • More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009.
  • The lifetime costs of crash-related deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers were $70 billion in 2005.
  • Young adults (ages 18-24) have the highest crash-related injury rates of all adults.

The CDC also reports in addition to being the leading cause of death among U.S. residents aged 5-34 years, motor vehicle-occupant injuries account for approximately 15 percent of all nonfatal injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments.

California Recognizes Strong Commitment to Seat-Belt Use

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow stated, “I am proud that California has one of the highest seat belt compliance rates. The CHP and the law enforcement community applaud California motorists for their use of seat belts and child passenger safety seats.”

California is one of 31 states with primary seat belt enforcement laws; the police can stop you for not wearing seat belts; in a secondary enforcement state they can only stop you if you have committed another offense, say speeding. Compliance tends to be higher in states with primary enforcement.

The California and nationwide numbers are a great improvement from the early 1980s, when, by contrast, in 1982, only 11 percent of U.S. residents reported seat belt use. According to Commissioner Farrow, California still has room for improvement, with 4.7 percent of the population, equal to more than 1.7 million people, failing to use seat belts.