State Safety Office
Florida Law requires that all drivers and front seat passengers use safety belts when the vehicle is in motion. In addition, all persons under 18 years old are required to be restrained by a safety belt or child restraint device. (FS 316.614)
Wearing a safety belt by older children and adults is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce serious injuries in crashes. Research has found that lap and shoulder combination safety belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50% (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], 2011). NHTSA estimates that safety belts saved nearly 13,000 lives in the United States in 2014.
In 2015 alone, safety belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives, and may have saved an additional 2,814 people if they had been wearing their safety belts.
In Florida, unrestrained occupants represent nearly 26% of all fatalities and 11% of serious injuries. Successful occupant protection programs involve enforcement, communication, and the education necessary to achieve significant, lasting increases in safety belt and child safety seat usage.
The goal of Florida’s Occupant Protection Program is to reduce fatalities and injuries to those who do not use age-appropriate safety restraints. Progress toward this goal relies on a variety of projects which encourage proper use of occupant restraints such as the Florida Occupant Protection Resource Center. The Resource Center provides statewide occupant protection training, education, and resources for road users of all ages.
The State Safety Office also supports the high visibility enforcement activities of state and local law enforcement agencies. These activities address safety belt use and child restraint laws during both day and nighttime hours with emphasis on Florida’s four high-risk populations. Support for state and local law enforcement participation in the national Click It or Ticket mobilization efforts is also a priority and contributes to Florida’s improving safety belt use rate.
Additional information on the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Traffic Safety Grant Projects is available in the FDOT 2017 Highway Safety Plan. For general information on the Traffic Safety Grant process, please see the State Safety Office Grants webpage.
Florida Safety Belt Use Reports
The use of federal funding for occupant protection programs requires administration of a statewide survey of safety belt use that must adhere to Federal Register Guidelines.
Florida’s first statewide survey, certified under Federal Register Guidelines, was completed in 1999 and has been conducted every year since. These surveys provide an accurate and reliable estimate of safety belt use in Florida, at a specific point in time, and are comparable to the first estimate accredited by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1999 as well as all statewide surveys conducted thereafter.
For more information contact Leilani Gruener @ (850) 414-4048
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