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U.S.: Millions don't buckle up

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicks off the Click It or Ticket campaign in Washington Monday. (By Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Traffic Fatalities Database | Who isn't buckling up?

[This post has been updated]

The government says about 45 million Americans are not buckling up in their cars.

The Transportation Department released its estimate of seat belt use on Monday as it kicked off the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign. The department says about 84 percent of motorists wear seat belts, an all-time high.

But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says thousands of motorists are still dying each year because they don't buckle up. He says an average of 38 unbelted people a day are killed in motor vehicle crashes.

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign is running from May 24 through June 6. More than 10,000 police agencies will enforce seat belt laws. The message will be reinforced with $8 million in national advertising.

Police representatives from the District and Montgomery and Prince George's counties were among officials who joined LaHood at the kickoff.

Prince George's police and Maryland state officials have been distributing $1 bills to drivers who have their seat belts fastened in promotions being staged in concert with the campaign.

The Buckle Up for a Buck program, which is in its third year, is run by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland State Highway Administration's Highway Safety Office and the Prince George's County Police Department.

Among states, Michigan led the nation with 98 percent of its motorists buckling up, followed by Hawaii with 97.9 percent, Oregon with 96.6 percent and Washington state with 96.4 percent. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia had a seat belt use of 90 percent or better.

Wyoming had the lowest rate in the nation with 67.6 percent, followed by New Hampshire with 68.9 percent and South Dakota with 72.1 percent.

-- Staff and wire reports

The Post's Ashley Halsey III was there, so check back for more details. What do you think? Send an e-mail to, or post a comment below.

By Michael Bolden  |  May 24, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Transportation Politics , highways  
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It is not the Govt's job to nannie the citizens of the US of A.

Posted by: jiji1 | May 24, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Seat belt use is NOT a personal choice issue. An unbelted occupant of a moving vehicle is a potential danger to those nearby as well as themselves. Seat belts help prevent crashes as well as protect during and after. An unbelted driver has little chance of controlling a vehicle which has been put into a spin, possibly thru no fault of that driver. An unbelted passenger can interfere with the driver and contribute to lack of control. Please use belts.

Posted by: mapuser | May 24, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

if you don't want to wear a seat belt, build your own roads to drive on.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 24, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I can't even begin to imagine not wearing a seatbelt for anything more than a minimal drive (like pulling one of the cars around the corner to park it, or in the old days pulling from a parking space to the front of the grocery store to load up the car when they didn't let you take the cart to your car). To me it feels absolutely alien to be in a moving car without wearing a seatbelt.

I do find the "Click It or Ticket" propaganda somewhat amusing, though, given that it's not a primary offense in Virginia.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 24, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

seat belt use IS a personal choice..wearing a belt or not has little to do with attitude of the many cases they are uncomfortable..although wearing a belt perhaps leads to lesser injuries it does not eliminate a more important issue..aggressive and alcohol or drug related drivers...

Posted by: wmnatzakanian | May 24, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

New Hampshire: Live free or die

(it's right on the license plate - that explains 68.9%)

Posted by: Chris737 | May 24, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not it's a personal choice has nothing to do with whether or not it's the law. In other words, it's certainly your prerogative to decide that you don't want to wear a seatbelt, but if you make that decision, then you have to accept the possibility of getting a ticket and having to pay a fine if you're stopped. It's the same principle that applies to exceeding the speed limit (and I'd wager that a lot more people routinely exceed speed limits than choose not to wear seatbelts).

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 24, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Michigan leads the nation with 98% seat belt use. Maybe the folks who MAKE the cars know just how dangerous - or faulty - they are...?

Posted by: nan_lynn | May 24, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

using that logic, seat belt use should be 100% in Japan...

Posted by: thetan | May 25, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

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