Buckled up: 94% of Michigan drivers use seat belts

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Seat belt use in Michigan is up a percent from 2018, to 94.4% from 93.4%, per Michigan's Office of Highway Safety Planning, reporting data from a Michigan State University observational study.

The highway safety planning office, part of the Michigan State Police, says that "every 1% increase in seat belt use means an estimated fewer 10 traffic deaths and 100 fewer serious injuries."

In 2018, 974 people died in 905 crashes. Thus far, 474 people have died in car crashes in Michigan, eight more than this time last year. The latest 2019 numbers were released Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Transportation, based on state police data.

Michigan's 2018 seat belt usage, 93.4%, was well above the national average, 89.6 percent. Usage rates ranged from 76.4% in New Hampshire to 97.8% in Hawaii. 

Drivers involved in car crashes wore seat belts at a higher rate than drivers overall in Michigan in 2018. Some 98.7% of crash victims wore seat belts last year, "in crashes for which seat belt was known." That's 5% higher than the general public, and a higher percentage than drivers wore seat belts in the highest-usage state, in Hawaii.

But some 35.2% of participants — 192 people —  in fatal car crashes where seat belt use was known were not wearing them.

Of those, 172 were drivers or front-seat passengers, 13 were back seat passengers, and seven people didn't wear a seat belt while in an "unknown" seating position.