In years past American citizens decided for themselves if they wanted to buckle up their seat belt as they got into the car. Now states are enforcing either primary or secondary laws which allow you to be ticketed for not being buckled up. There are good reasons for these laws to put on the books and enforced.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for 1 year olds to 34 year olds. That is a wide range of ages that car crashes encompasses. The most effective way to reduce motor vehicle accident fatalities is the use of a safety belt.
Statistics such as this is why state laws regarding safety belt usage have increased and become stricter. Over 25 states plus the District of Columbia that have primary safety belt laws. A primary law means that a law enforcement officer can stop the motorist and give out a citation solely for occupants not being properly buckled up.
All other states (except New Hampshire) there are secondary laws in place which allow for safety belt citations to be written up if the occupants are not wearing their seat belts when stopped for a different violation. So in these states a driver cannot be pulled over for being unbelted but can they can get a ticket if they are pulled over for a violation such as speeding and are found without their safety belt on.
The NHTSA would like more states to move forward and have primary laws regarding safety belts since they are more effective in making occupants of a vehicle buckle up when they are in a car or truck. Wearing the safety belt increases in the states with the primary laws as the fatality number decreases. In primary law states around 88 percent of motorists use their seat belt on a regular basis while in states with only a secondary law it is only 75 percent.
The part of the country that needs the most help wearing seat belts is the rural areas. People are in rural area are generally working class people, such as farmers. They do not use their seat belts while in their farm equipment or fork left or whatever vehicle they use on their job so they forget or choose not to buckle up in their street vehicle. This is why it has been determined only 35% of rural area residents use their safety belts. That is unfortunate since 60% of all traffic fatalities occur out on rural roadways.
States with their primary and secondary safety laws are bumping up the number of Americans that are using their safety belts. It is now around 85% when only a few years ago it was around 70%. The NHTSA predicts this has saved nearly 16,000 lives each year and stopped over 300,000 injuries from occurring a year. These seat belt laws are thus doing their job. The idea of a ticket for not buckling up is scaring people into using their safety belt. Or maybe an even better thing has occurred and people want to use their seat belt to possibly save their life or someone else's life.