Teens, as both passengers and drivers, have the lowest rate of seat belt use of any age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seat belt statistics show the consequences are deadly for not using seat belts. In 2020, 1,885 young drivers (ages 15-20) died in traffic crashes, a 17% increase from 1,616 in 2019; More than half (52%) were not wearing a seat belt.
A recent study published in JAMA Network Open demonstrated the effectiveness of a text-messaging program in increasing young adult seat belt use. Among 18- to 25-year-old participants who reported not wearing a seat belt, 41% used a seat belt at six weeks compared to 20% who did not receive the text-messaging program.
More states are also enacting primary seat belt laws to potentially save many teen lives.
Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.
Parents should insist on seat belts on every trip and encourage their teens to buckle up before turning on the ignition. Parents should also model safe driving behaviors at all times, including always wearing a seat belt.
Watch this video with your teen about how to buckle up correctly for optimum safety:
Sharing seat belt statistics with your teen will increase awareness of a proven way to stay safe on the road.
Not wearing a seat belt is 121% more prevalent in communities with the largest percentage of the population living with three or more indicators of vulnerability than those with the smallest percentage.
More Seat Belt Statistics
- In 2020, 1,885 young drivers (ages 15-20) died in traffic crashes, a 17% increase from 1,616 in 2019; More than half (52%) were not wearing a seat belt.
- Seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 374,276 lives from 1975 to 2017.
- When used properly, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%.
- Over 60% of pediatric spinal fractures occur in children ages 15-17, coinciding with the beginning of legal driving. Motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the most common cause, and nearly two-thirds of pediatric spinal fractures sustained in MVCs occurred when seat belts were not used.
- In 2019, 43% of high school students nationwide reported not always wearing a seat during the past month.
- Teens who say their parents set rules and monitor their driving are twice as likely to wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger as teens with less involved parents.
- People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.