CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and his Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) announced recently that the statewide seat belt usage rate for 2022 came in at 92.5 percent, a new record. This rate exceeds the national average of 90 percent.
“It just doesn’t get better than being able to say West Virginians are using their seatbelts more than ever before,” Gov. Justice said. “These seatbelt numbers are off the chart impressive, and I’m so glad to know West Virginians are being as safe as possible when they’re on our roads. Especially this time of year when the roads are getting slick, and it gets dark early, making sure you’re safe in a vehicle is important. Thank you West Virginia for taking care of yourselves and your family.”
Seat belt utilization has increased substantially over the past nine years. The passage of the primary seat belt law in 2013 and continued effort by the GHSP’s Click It or Ticket campaigns, high visibility law enforcement, and education are instrumental in increasing West Virginia’s seat belt usage.
“West Virginians are getting the message: seat belts save lives,” GHSP Director Bob Tipton said. “Roadway fatalities in West Virginia have decreased from 432 in 2007 to 267 in 2020. Crash data shows that seat belt use saves lives and prevents serious injuries. We strive to make sure drivers and passengers know how to correctly buckle up and to ensure children are properly restrained in a car seat or booster appropriate for their weight and height.”
Research shows using lap and shoulder combination seat belts reduce risk of a fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and reduce the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent (NHTSA, 2011). Drivers and passengers of light trucks reduce their risk of fatal injury by 60 percent (Kahane, 2015).
To conduct the scientific study, observations were randomly scheduled for all days of the week during daylight hours between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Observers recorded the use of seat belts and mobile devices while driving, along with other information. An independent consulting firm has certified the results, ensuring their accuracy and objectivity.