Oklahoma City, OK. – The seat belt message is “clicking” with Oklahomans. An observational survey of seat belt use, sponsored by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, measured how often drivers and front-seat passengers wore their seat belts. The seat belt use rate increased from 83.1% in 2007 to 84.3% in 2008, the highest rate since the first survey in 1986.
Results noted a significant discrepancy between those who drive pickup trucks and those who don’t. Pickup truck drivers had only a 74.9% use rate, while drivers of other vehicles had an 88% use rate. To address the problem, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office has targeted pickup truck drivers in previous years as part of a statewide media campaign with the message “Buckle Up in Your Truck.”
The overall state usage rate increased from 2007 to 2008; however, notable decreases occurred in the West and Southeast regions. Additionally, when comparing the metro areas, Tulsa had a significantly higher usage rate at 91%, compared to 82.3% in the Oklahoma City metro area.
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office promotes seat belt usage each year with its annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. The mobilization campaign combines statewide media efforts with special emphasis enforcement by partnering with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local law enforcement.
New emphasis is being placed on teen drivers. Over the last 6 years, of 557 fatal crashes involving teens in Oklahoma, 70% were unbelted as compared to 63% nationally. “This alarming trend calls for highway safety efforts to refocus on teens,” Mackey said.
“Our message is out there. Most folks know that if they don’t “click it,” they could get a ticket. It just takes a few seconds when you get in the car—and it could save your life,” Mackey said.
The surveys were completed by the Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Oklahoma in Norman for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.