The ultimate goal is zero fatalities.
Seat belts save lives, but getting people to use them – even to protect their own lives – is a challenge. Public education is one way to keep the issue in front of motorists, along with legislation. MoDOT supports each approach, attacking the problem with focused marketing campaigns and reinforcing it with hard facts to back legislative efforts.
Seat belts are one of the easiest things vehicle occupants can do to protect themselves in the event of a crash, but it is a challenge (especially in Missouri) to ensure everyone is buckled up every trip, every time, day or night. Public education and legislation are two ways to keep the issue in front of motorists. MoDOT supports each approach, attacking the problem with focused marketing campaigns and reinforcing it with hard facts to back legislative efforts and media campaigns. Several municipalities across the state have enacted primary ordinances within city or county limits. Missouri currently has one county and 66 municipalities that have adopted primary seat belt ordinances, representing over 27.4% of the state’s population.
Based on 122,607 driver & front seat passenger observations, seat belt use in Missouri for 2022 was 88.9%, a 0.9% increase from 2021. St. Francois County was the lowest at 68.6% and Callaway County was the highest at 97.3% based on weighted data. Nationwide numbers always run about a year behind in state numbers, so the national average for seat belt use in 2021 was 90.4% (2022 data is not yet available). Overall, in 2021, Missouri ranked 40th among the 56 surveyed states and territories (ranging from 72.3% to 97.2%) and 5th among secondary law states (ranging from 75.5% to 93.2%).
MoDOT continues to work with external partners to improve Missouri's safety culture through statewide strategic initiatives such as Buckle Up Phone Down and by coordinating NHTSA -funded Click It or Ticket, Youth Seat Belt and Child Passenger Safety Campaigns, as well as providing educational programs such as TRACTION, B.R.A.K.E.S. and ThinkFirst.
Purpose of the Measure:
This measure tracks annual trends in seat belt use in passenger vehicles. This data drives the development and focus of the Missouri Highway Safety Plan and supports Missouri’s Show Me Zero Plan.
Measurement and Data Collection:
Each June, a statewide survey is conducted at 560 preselected locations in 28 counties. The data collected is calculated into a seat belt usage rate using a formula approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Data collection locations are selected from counties that represent 85% of the state’s vehicle occupant fatalities. While the data collection plan is the same each year for consistency, NHTSA guidelines require survey sites to be re-selected every five years based on updated fatality data. The 2018 survey was the first survey using updated survey sites since Missouri’s new survey methodology started in 2013 and the Highway Safety and Traffic Division is currently reselecting sites for the 2023 survey year, so the survey sites are changing after the 2022 survey. The target for this measure is updated annually in October for the next calendar year. This target is established as the current national average.
Kansas City District
Highway Safety Program Administrator
Highway Safety and Traffic