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More states need to strap in some seat belt laws, CDC says

As seatbelt use rises, deaths and injuries are falling -- but there's still a long way to go, the centers report.

January 03, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
  • A Ford employee checks the seat belt on a 2011 Ford Explorer on the assembly line at the Ford manufacturing plant in Chicago.
A Ford employee checks the seat belt on a 2011 Ford Explorer on the assembly… (Tannen Maury / EPA )

Good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- seat belt use is up and crash deaths are down, according to information released Tuesday.

The percentage of adults who always wear seat belts rose from 80% to 85% between 2002 and 2008, according to the CDC. Officials credit better and stricter laws on seat belt use for part of the rise: In 1982, before the first state law required seat belts to be used, only 11% of people strapped in.

But as of 2010, 19 states populated by a quarter of adult Americans did not have a primary seat belt law, and 1 in 7 adults still don't wear their seat belts on every trip. (Of note: Men are less likely to buckle up than women.)

That number has to go down, the CDC says, because wearing seat belts cuts the number of crash-related serious injuries and deaths in half.

That shouldn't be surprising: check out this handy comparison, courtesy of Georgia State University, of wearing two types of seat belts (stretch and nonstretch) to not wearing a seat belt at all. A driver not wearing a seat belt feels more than seven times the force of a stretchy seat belt wearer -- and his head probably goes through the windshield.  

In case you still need persuasion, read more at the CDC vital signs page on seat belts.

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