Oregon boasts third highest seatbelt use

By Observer editorial June 11, 2010 01:07 pm
The recent accident involving the Ingerson family (see the June 3 Observer) is one more illustration of the importance of wearing seat belts in saving lives. Sure, vehicles today come well equipped. Most have air bags all around and many other safety features. In combination with seat belts, these features save lives. As the driver in the accident, Tina Ingerson, said, “Seat belts saved us.” She should know. The Pontiac Grand Am she was driving on Highway 237 east of Island City hit gravel, lost control and rolled four times. It may be preaching to the choir, however, to advocate seat belt use in Oregon. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that Oregon placed third in the nation as the most likely to buckle up with 96.6 percent compliance. Only Michigan and Hawaii scored higher.

Nationwide, the belt use rate for front seat occupants is a paltry 84 percent.

Until compliance is at 100 percent, though, authorities need to continue to educate the public to be safe on the highway.

The study did make some strong points. One is that certain groups are more likely to rebel against seat belts. Teens and young adults are less likely to buckle up, as are nighttime riders, motorists traveling rural roads and motorists riding in pickup trucks. Face it. More education is needed to help these groups realize it is not a freedom issue but a safety issue. The life they save could be their own.

Click It or Ticket laws have made believers out of many drivers and passengers. Fines for violating the law are hefty. Oregon’s fine at last check was $75, second highest in the nation, behind only Washington, at $86.

Since Oregon’s passage of the adult belt law in 1990, crash fatalites have dropped 44 percent and injury rates have dropped 49 percent. Statistics like that are a direct result of Oregonians’ compliance with the law. Oregonians should take pride that their state is among the best in the nation in making its highways safe.