We’ve mentioned on this blog before that seat belt use appears to be rising across Missouri, Illinois and the rest of the U.S. The good news is that recent statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration back this perception up. The 2013 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) which the NHTSA conducted revealed that seat belt use across the country increased by 1 percent from the previous year. The rates of fatal car accidents involving unrestrained vehicle occupants has been steadily decreasing at the same time that seat belt use has risen. Unfortunately, even those who do engage in proper seat belt use may find themselves suffering severe injuries or even death in a car accident. This may necessitate pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim through a St. Louis personal injury attorney.
NOPUS has the distinction of being the only survey to observe seat belt use by passenger vehicle occupants on a probability-based and nationwide basis. Conducted annually, this survey is unique in that it doesn’t rely upon interviewing or questioning vehicle occupants on their seat belt usage. Instead, trained observers are sent out to roadways which are probabilistically selected in order to directly observe passenger vehicles and collect data on seat belt usage.
The trained observers obtain their data by standing next to a particular roadway or by traveling in vehicles along expressways. They do not stop or speak with any of the passenger vehicles they observe, something which helps them collect only the true seat belt usage behaviors of those they observe. The observations are made between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and NOPUS engages a complicated, multistage process of both sampling and analyzing the data. The survey breaks down its results into various categories, including vehicles which were traveling in heavy traffic versus lighter traffic and by region of the country.
Some of the most interesting results of this survey include:
- Those states where police can pull over vehicles for the mere fact occupants are not wearing seat belts (“primary law states” saw a significantly higher rate of seat belt use than those states which have weaker seat belt enforcement regulations (“secondary law states”) or those states which have no seat belt laws at all.
- Those in the Northeast saw a 4 percent jump in seat belt use in 2013 over the 80 percent result in 2012.
- Seat belt use in traffic termed “heavy” (meaning an average of vehicles on the roadway at that time is more than 4 per lane per mile) rose an entire percentage point from 2012’s 80 percent to 2013’s 90 percent rate.
- Overall, the rate of seat belt use increased from 60 percent in 1995 to 87 percent in 2013, with a corresponding decrease of daytime fatalities of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants from 57 percent in 1995 to 43 percent in 2012.
While these statistics outlining increased seat belt use and decreased fatalities of unrestrained occupants are promising, the fact remains that many victims are injured or killed while wearing seat belts. This can occur either due to seat belt failure or the sheer force of serious or fatal car accidents. Whatever the reason, injured victims or their surviving relatives have the right to seek financial restitution when another person’s negligence leads to their injuries or death. In instances of seat belt failure, victims may be able to pursue financial claims against the manufacturer of the vehicle and/or seat belt. To find out whether you may be able to pursue such a claim in a Missouri or Illinois civil court, please contact my St. Louis personal injury law firm toll-free at 1-888-586-7041 right away. We collect no money until – and only if – we succeed in prosecuting or settling your case against the person or company which caused your injuries or loss.
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