January 6, 2011 in Nation/World

West Coast leads in seat-belt use

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Motorists and passengers in California, Oregon and Washington state have the highest seat-belt use in the country, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oregon – where nearly 94 percent of people said they always wore a seat belt – ranked No. 1, according to a CDC telephone survey. California was close behind in self-reported seat belt use at 93.2 percent, followed by Washington state at 92 percent.

All three states have strict enforcement of safety belt laws – allowing police to pull a vehicle over solely because they see an occupant not wearing a seat belt.

The states where residents were least likely to say they wore a seat belt include New Hampshire, the only state without a mandatory seat belt law. Only 66.4 percent in the “Live Free or Die” state said they always buckled up.

Two states reported even lower rates: South Dakota at 59.7 percent and North Dakota at 59.2 percent. Both are among places where police are allowed to issue tickets for lack of safety belt use only if drivers are pulled over for another moving violation.

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