Tennessee’s overall seat belt usage rate hit its highest mark ever in 2018.
The rate rose to 90.9 percent for an increase of 2.4 percent from the previous year.
Fred Sherrell is the Tennessee Highway Safety Office Law Enforcement Liason for the Cumberland Region. He said a new generation of drivers helped with reaching the milestone.
“I think a lot of our young drivers are those children, that back in the day, we made sure they were buckled up in their car seats correctly,” Sherrell said. “I think those are the children who are growing to drivers age and it’s just common knowledge that they get in the vehicle and buckle up.”
The THSO said Tennessee became the 24th state to achieve 90 percent seat belt usage. Sherrell said education and substantial efforts made by law enforcement also played a part in reaching the mark.
“We need to be jumping and screaming with the rate going up like that,” Sherrell said. “That means more people that will stay safe in a vehicle in the event that they do have a crash.”
Sherrell said the state will push to achieve a 100 percent seat belt usage rate with increased enforcement efforts and by continuing to educate the public.
“We’re going to put a little bit more emphasis on nighttime seat belts,” Sherrell said. “We’re wanting to do some events where we are checking those nighttime seat belts. We want people to understand that we are trying to save their lives.”
THSO research data was collected at 190 pre-identified roadway locations across Tennessee, with researchers observing more than 27,000 front-seat vehicle occupants.
The data indicated female occupants displayed a higher usage rate of 94.8 percent than males at 88.3 percent. Pickup trucks displayed the lowest usage rate at 84.2 percent.