CDC: Self-Reported Seat Belt Use in U.S. Has Risen

Rate higher in states with primary enforcement; nonfatal injuries treated in ERs have fallen

TUESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Seat belt use has increased nationally, particularly in states with primary enforcement laws, and nonfatal motor vehicle-occupant injuries treated in emergency departments have declined, though they still affect a substantial number of people, according to a report in the Jan. 4 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC used 2009 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program to provide estimates of the nonfatal, motor vehicle-occupant injuries treated in emergency departments among adults aged 18 and older. The CDC also used 2008 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the prevalence of self-reported seat belt use among U.S. adults.

The report revealed that an estimated 2.3 million adult motor vehicle-occupants experienced nonfatal injuries treated in emergency departments in 2009. The nonfatal, motor vehicle-occupant injury rate declined from 1,193.8 per 100,000 population in 2001 to 1,007.5 per 100,000 population in 2009, a 15.6 percent decline. Compared to states with secondary enforcement laws regarding seat belt use, self-reported seat belt use was higher in states with primary enforcement laws in 2008 (88.2 versus 79.2 percent). The report also revealed that self-reported seat belt use increased overall from 80.5 percent in 2002 to 85.0 percent in 2008.

"Seat belt use is a proven method to reduce motor vehicle-occupant injuries, and the results of this analysis demonstrate that states with primary enforcement laws have higher prevalence of self-reported seat belt use," the authors write. "To help reduce the number of motor vehicle-occupant injuries, 19 states without primary enforcement laws should consider enacting them."

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