More Alabamians buckling up
More Alabamians than ever are protecting themselves by buckling up, according to 2006 survey results. The seat belt usage rate was a reported 83 percent, as compared to 82 percent in 2005.
While child restraint use in Alabama remains high—this year’s rate is 88 percent compared to 92 percent last year—Alabamians are not choosing the appropriate restraint or the safest location in the vehicle. New data show nearly half (43 percent) of the children five years old and under restrained in motor vehicles in 2006 were seated in the front seat. Almost all (92 percent) of the children in the front seat were wearing a seat belt only.
Motor vehicle-related deaths are the number one cause of death due to injury in the state. Injury and death due to motor vehicle crashes can be prevented through the use of seat belts and child safety seats. In 2005, 1,135 people were killed and more than 44,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in Alabama. Of those killed, 50 percent were not wearing safety restraints. Based on 2004 data, there is a 55 percent probability that a typical driver in Alabama will be involved in an injury or fatal crash while driving an automobile in his or her lifetime.
Using guidelines required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the study observed 57,449 front seat occupants in 15 selected counties to determine seat belt use. A separate study observed 2,730 children age 5 and under in any position in the vehicle across 15 selected counties to determine car seat usage.
For more information on seat belts, child restraints or to find a local inspection station, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health’s web site at www.adph.org/injuryprevention.