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 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. Several municipalities across the state are taking matters into their own hands, enacting primary ordinances within city limits. Missouri currently has one county and 64 municipalities that have adopted primary seat belt ordinances, representing over 27% of the state’s population.
Based on 116,224 observations, seat belt use in Missouri for 2020 was 86.1%, a 1.6% decrease from 2019. Benton County was the lowest at 67.7% and McDonald County was the highest at 96.6% (weighted data). The national average for seat belt use in 2019 was 90.7% (2020 data is not yet available). Missouri’s national ranking (including Washington D.C.) in 2019 was 37th overall and seventh of 16 in secondary or no seat belt law states. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on traffic, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration waived the requirement for states to conduct a statewide survey in 2020. MoDOT opted to continue with the survey at the normal June schedule as traffic volume was returning to near normal and our survey partner had surveyors ready with provisions for social distancing and masks. The 2020 survey was only 3,189 observations less than 2019.
MoDOT is improving its safety culture through statewide strategic initiatives such as Buckle Up Phone Down and by coordinating Click It or Ticket, Youth Seat Belt and Child Passenger Safety Campaigns, as well as providing educational programs such as Teens Taking Action To Prevent Traffic Crashes 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. The target for this measure is updated annually in October for the next calendar year. This target is established as the current national average.