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Study: Pennsylvania's 2020 Seat Belt Use Rate at 88.9 Percent


October 29, 2020


There's no excuse not to buckle up. And kids belong in the back seat. PennDOT statistics indicate that car crashes are a leading cause of death for children. PennDOT states that the lives of 328 children younger than 5 were saved by using occupant restraints in 2016. Forty-two additional lives could have been saved if car seat use was at 100 percent. Every 33 seconds one child under the age of 13 was involved in a crash in 2016. Statistics from

The federal National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has determined that the documentation submitted by Pennsylvania asserting the 2020 seat belt use rate of 88.9 percent meets the requirements of certification set forth in the Uniform Criteria for State Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use.

In 2019, seat belt use in the United States ranged from 70.7 percent in New Hampshire to 97.1 percent in Hawaii. Twenty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands achieved seat belt use rates of 90 percent or higher. These results are from probability-based observational surveys conducted by the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.


In 2011, NHTSA established new uniform criteria for observational surveys. States conduct and report out from the annual surveys of seat belt use in accordance with the Uniform Criteria for State Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use.

Compliance with the criteria is verified annually by NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis.

Jurisdictions with stronger seat belt enforcement laws continue to exhibit generally higher use rates than those with weaker laws.

National Seat Belt Use Rate

The nationwide seat belt use rate was 90.7 percent in 2019, as measured by NHTSA's National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS).

NOPUS is a national probability-based survey, independent from State belt use surveys. NOPUS provides NHTSA's official measure of nationwide seat belt use in the United States and other related information. Due to a difference in survey methodology, NOPUS provides a different measure of nationwide use than would be obtained by combining the use rates from the States and Territories.

For more information on Seat Belt Use in the States and Territories, visit

For more information on seat belt safety in PA, visit the website


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