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Community Safety

Seat Belt Use Up in Missouri but Still Below National Average

Michele Skalicky

More people than ever before are buckling up in Missouri.  The latest Missouri Seat Belt Usage Survey, which has been taken annually since 1998, shows 87.1 percent of Missourians use a safety belt, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. That’s up from 60 percent when the survey started.  Seat belt usage is still below the national average of 89.7 percent. 

Jon Nelson, executive committee chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety said there’s been a 5.7 percent increase in usage in the past two years. He attributes that, in part, to educational efforts.

He hopes the increased use will save lives.  Sixty-one percent of traffic crash fatalities in the state last year involved an unbelted driver or passenger.

Missouri is one of 15 states with a secondary safety belt law, meaning law enforcement officers cannot pull someone over just because they're not wearing a seat belt.   Drivers can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if they're pulled over for another traffic violation.   Fifty-eight Missouri cities, including Springfield, and two counties have adopted their own primary safety belt ordinances.