MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, MI - The Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center confirmed that Michigan traffic deaths climbed over 1,000 in 2020, the highest it has been in three years. This is a 10 percent increase from the 985 fatalities in 2019. Although data is not final till the end of the year, preliminary statistics show the pace of traffic deaths increasing in 2021.
This may correlate with the decreasing seatbelt use compliance rate, which dropped from 94.4 percent in 2019 to 92.6 percent in 2021, according to results from a grant-funded direct observation study conducted by Michigan State University. This is Michigan’s lowest seat belt compliance rate since 2004.
“The seat belt use numbers are moving in the wrong direction, and it’s important to turn things around as quickly as possible,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). “Seat belts are the cornerstone of any effective traffic safety strategy. We must continually remind drivers and passengers of all ages to buckle up, every trip, every time.”
Every 1 percent increase in seat belt use means an estimated 10 fewer traffic deaths and 100 fewer serious injuries. In 2009, Michigan's seat belt compliance was at its highest, reaching 97.9 percent.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), The nationwide seat belt use rate was 90.7 percent in 2019.
The Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), is funding a statewide campaign until july 24 to enforce seat belt and impaired driving laws. Advertising efforts include a video titled “Backseat Excuses”.
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