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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Monday, July 23, 2007
Media Contact: Mary Ann Rayment
Department of Motor Vehicles
(757) 416-1741

Virginia Seat Belt Use Rate Increases
Click It or Ticket Credited for Virginia Seat Belt Swell to 79.9 Percent

RICHMOND - More Virginians are buckling up according to a survey by the Virginia Transportation Research Council at the University of Virginia. Seat belt rates increased to 79.9 percent during the June 2007 survey, up from 78.6 percent in 2006.

"We are encouraged that Virginians have been getting the message that seat belts save lives," said D. B. Smit, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Virginia Highway Safety Office. "The combination of enforcement and public awareness of Click It or Ticket reminds citizens that using a seat belt is the right thing to do."

Virginia, however, is currently experiencing an increased number of fatalities, due to lack of restraint use. As of July 15, 2007 preliminary data reveals 525 fatalities in 2007, compared to 495 at the same time in 2006. Of the fatalities, 249 people were not restrained, compared with 235 in 2006.

In response to the increased fatalities, the Virginia Highway Safety Office is partnering with law enforcement and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct several special Click It or Ticket mobilizations throughout the remainder of the year to continue to boost Virginia's seat belt use and reduce highway fatalities and serious injuries. The next wave of stepped up enforcement is slated for July 29 through August 5.

"Through this partnership, we can keep the seat belt message in the minds of every one," said Smit. "Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes."

Of the passenger vehicle occupants involved in fatal crashes in Virginia during 2005, 60 percent were restrained and survived the crash. When worn correctly, seat belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 44 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUV's, and mini-vans.

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