AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP/AP) – Seat belt usage has climbed to an all-time high in Massachusetts, but new research by the Univesity of Massachusetts shows that more than on in five motorists still aren’t buckling up.
Massachusetts has lagged behind other states when it comes to seat belt use. In 2015. the state’s usage rate ranked 48th in the nation, when the U.S. average was 88.5%.
Massachusetts has a secondary seat belt law, meaning drivers can only be ticketed for not buckling up if they’re first stopped for another infraction, such as speeding.
The UMass Traffic Saftey Research Program does a yearly study of 27,000 cars to see if drivers and passengers are belted.
Robin Riessman, the Associate Director of UMass Safe told 22News, “What we’ve seen over the ten years and especially within the last year is a marked increase in safety belt use really across the board,” from 74% to just over 78%, and the increase was across all age groups, genders and ethnicities.
“There’s plenty of increases that can be made but I think the state as a whole and the Executive Office of Public Safety have been doing a lot of campaigning to promote safety belt use and I think people are starting to get the message,” Riessman said, and that message is getting passed on to younger generations.
Jay Schladenhauffen, of Westford said, “I always make a point when people are getting in my car that I make them wear a seatblet too even if they don’t normally because I’m paying for insurance, it’s my responsibility if they get hurt.”