Michigan Sees Increase in Seat Belt Usage And Fatal Accidents in 2016

A study conducted by students at Michigan State University, in partnership with the Michigan State Police shows an increase in seat belt usage in 2016. The seat belt use rate climbed from 92.8% in 2015 to 94.5% so far this year. This comes as welcomed news, as there has been a significant increase in traffic deaths in the past two years. 

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“Traffic safety programs are meant to reduce traffic deaths and mitigate the impact of injuries,” Michael L. Prince, Director of the Michigan Office of Highway Planning (MOHP) said in a statement sent out by the Michigan State Police. “The Click It or Ticket campaign remains our cornerstone effort to remind motorists about Michigan’s life-saving seat belt law.” MSP reports that since the state’s all-time belt use record of 97.9% in 2009, the rate has been declining or plateauing around 93%. 2016’s numbers are the highest it has been in five years. 

So what does a couple of percentage points mean? For every one percent increase in seat belt usage, there will be an estimated 10 fewer traffic deaths and 100 fewer serious injuries. Michigan ranks near the top in seat belt usage in the United States, as numbers range from 69.5% usage (New Hampshire) to 97.3% (California and Georgia). 

Cell phone usage was also tracked during this study, which found that the numbers remained the same from the previous year. 7.5% of respondents said they use some type of electronic device, including a handheld device or hands-free device. 

FATAL ACCIDENTS UP IN 2016

Even though seat belt usage has risen, MOHP reported that traffic deaths are 42 higher than this time last year with 440 traffic fatalities taking place as of June 28th. Electronic billboards have been spotted on Michigan highways displaying the fatal crash statistic in hopes that it influences drivers to be safer while out on the road. 

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The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and MSP are continuing their “Toward Zero Deaths” statewide safety campaign, which is looking to reduce traffic fatalities from 889 in 2011 to 750 in 2016. “As part of Operation C.A.R.E and the summer-long statewide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drunk driving crackdown, troopers will take a zero-tolerance approach to motorists who are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, are unbelted or exhibiting other dangerous driving behaviors,” Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director of MSP, told MLive


One of the first things drivers should do when they enter a vehicle is buckle their seat belt. It can be the difference between life and death when you are involved in a car accident. Distracted driving habits such as texting or taking pictures can also be very dangerous, not only to yourself but also to other drivers on the road. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Whether caused by distracted driving or drunk driving, our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of car crash cases. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.