It’s no secret that wearing your seat belt properly can reduce the risk of death and serious car accident injuries. In fact, the smartest and safest choice all drivers can make when getting on the road is by wearing their seat belts. Although people know the safety benefits and laws regarding seat belts, some people still fail to wear them on the road, ultimately putting their lives at unnecessary risk.

In 2017, an estimated 14,955 lives were saved from seat belt use.


A Milwaukee personal injury law firm, Cannon & Dunphy, S.C., conducted a study using NHTSA data to find out every state’s seat belt use rates in the time frame of 2010-2017. The data takes the closest look at 2017 to determine the use rates, as well as the rate of change from the previous year. In their study, it was discovered that the national average rate on seat belt use was 89.7%. So, which states were above and below that national average?

Highest Seat Belt Usage States

In 2017, the top 5 states that had the highest rates of seat  belt usage rates, thus beating the national average, were:

  1. Georgia – 97.10%
  2. Hawaii – 96.90%
  3. Oregon – 96.80%
  4. California – 96.20%
  5. Washington – 94.80%

Lowest Seat Belt Usage States

Contrary to the top 5 states with the highest seat belt rates in 2017, these following states ranked the lowest in the nation.

  1. New Hampshire – 67.60%
  2. Massachusetts – 73.70%
  3. South Dakota – 74.80%
  4. Montana – 78.00%
  5. Mississippi – 78.80%


Although a majority of states stayed consistent with their rates from 2010-2017, some states saw significant changes in their rates from 2016-2017.  For example, based on the U.S. seat belt use study, states that saw the highest increase from 2016 to 2017 were: 

  1. Arkansas – 6%
  2. Vermont – 4.30%
  3. Virginia – 6.30%

The states that saw the highest decrease from 2016 to 2017 were:

  1. Kansas – 5%
  2. North Dakota -3.50%
  3. Massachusetts – 4.50%

Always Wear a Seat Belt

Whether you are the driver or the passenger, deciding to wear your seat belt every time you get inside a car should be without hesitation. Although not all state laws require seat belt use when operating a vehicle, it is safer and wiser to do so. Here are a few safety benefits of buckling up:

  • Reduces the risk of severe injuries and death
  • Can prevent frontal impact in the event of an accident
  • Secured
  • Provides safety to all passengers

In simple, wear your seat belt. Don’t put yourself at risk.