Raleigh -Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announced today that 90.6 percent of drivers and passengers in North Carolina are wearing their seat belts. According to the annual seat belt survey completed in June, North Carolina has now achieved the highest seat belt usage rate in state history.
"As the first state to the launch the 'Click It or Ticket' campaign in 1993, North Carolina has long been recognized as a national leader in highway safety," said Governor McCrory. "We re-emphasize that role today with the results of this survey, which show that a record number of North Carolina motorists are now making the smart decision to buckle up."
The increase in seat belt usage, particularly among passengers, is due in large part to the joint efforts of the N.C. Department of Transportation, the Governor's Highway Safety Program and law enforcement agencies across the state, who partnered throughout the month of May to increase "Click It or Ticket" education and enforcement efforts.
"I'm proud of the ongoing teamwork that has resulted in our state's highest seat belt usage rate ever," said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. "More importantly, I am proud of what these numbers mean -that our citizens are making good decisions that result in more lives saved on our highways. We will continue to work with the public and law enforcement in our goal to reach 100 percent compliance with the law and zero highway deaths."
The May "Click It or Ticket" campaign was developed using data from last year's seat belt survey. This data-driven approach ensured that the outreach efforts successfully reached the right people with the right message.
"Last year's seat belt survey showed us that passengers were buckling up less often than drivers," said GHSP Director Don Nail. "With our partners in law enforcement and at NCDOT, we focused our public awareness campaign and enforcement efforts to ensure more passengers knew of and complied with the law requiring them to wear their seat belts just like drivers do."
During the campaign, local law enforcement and the N.C. Highway Patrol increased patrols in the 25 counties with the highest number of unbelted fatalities and citations, and issued citations day and night to drivers and passengers who were not buckled up.
NCDOT launched an extensive statewide public awareness campaign, focusing on unbuckled passengers in May in conjunction with the increased enforcement effort. It included a new public service announcement - "Every Seat. Every Time." - that reminded motorists that the law requires you to buckle up no matter where you sit. The PSA was tailored to young males 18-34 who the data show are least likely to buckle up in any seat. The "Every Seat. Every Time." message was also advertised on the radio, at gas stations, in restaurants and bars, and on social media.
Following the May campaign, North Carolina's overall seatbelt rate increased 2 percent to 90.6 percent, surpassing 90 percent for the first time. Passenger usage increased 4.8 percent to 89.7 percent, and driver usage increased 1.3 percent to 90.9 percent.
Mecklenburg County had the highest seatbelt usage at 95.6 percent. Franklin County had the lowest seatbelt usage rate at 86.5 percent.
Female drivers buckled up more often than males (93.1 percent versus 89.2 percent), and young drivers ages 16-24 are buckling up 89.1 percent of the time, compared to 85.5 percent last year.