Occupant Safety in Maryland
Maryland's Occupant Protection Program has been a highlight of traffic safety efforts throughout the State for many years. Boasting an overall safety belt use rate of more than 94% in 2011, Maryland continues its climb toward the ultimate goal of a 100% safety belt use. With particular emphasis on young drivers and pickup truck drivers, Maryland's Statewide partners remain committed to educating the public on the benefits of properly using a safety belt and aggressively enforcing Maryland's primary safety belt law when necessary.
- In 1997, Maryland instituted a primary safety belt law, allowing police officers to stop a motorist simply for not wearing a safety belt.
- Seat belt use has risen from 80% in 1997 to 94.17% in 2011.
- During this same time period, the annual number of traffic-related injuries in Maryland has decreased by more than 21% from 1997 levels.
- Ejection from the vehicle is one of the most serious events that can occur during a vehicle crash. Of those people ejected, 75% are killed as a result of the ejection.
- Nationwide, safety belt use was at an all-time high in 2010 at a rate of 85%.
- As of May 31, 2012, 30 states had primary enforcement laws and the trend toward primary enforcement continues in many secondary law states.
- There are more than 1,800 national safety belt use observation sites throughout the United States.
- Seat belt use continues to be lower at night, on rural roads, and with certain populations such as pickup truck drivers.
- NHTSA statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide.
- In 2010, 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA, and 51 percent of them were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes.
- In 2010 nationally, 61 percent of the 10,647 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 42 percent during the daytime hours.
- In Maryland, the percentage of front seat drivers and passengers found to be unbelted during fatal crashes rose from 50.7 percent in 2009 to 60.2 percent in 2010.
- In 2010, more than 100,000 citations were written for seat belt and Child Passenger Safety (CPS)-related offenses and statewide law enforcement agencies continue to vigorously promote the issuance of citations for all seat belt-related offenses.
- Between 2006–2010, there were 1874 driver and passenger fatalities. Of those, 896 were not using safety equipment— an astounding 47% of fatalities.
*Crash data source: State Highway Administration Safety Information Database
- Every driver and front seat passenger next to the door must wear a seat belt, regardless of their age.
- Everyone under the age of 16 must wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.
- A child under the age of 8 years, must be restrained in a child safety seat according to the vehicle and child safety seat manufacturer's instructions unless that child is 4 feet, 9 inches or taller.
- Every child under the age of 16 must either be secured in a child safety seat or restrained by a seat belt.
- Children under the age of 16 may not ride in an unenclosed bed of a pickup truck.
Click It or Ticket
Click it or Ticket is a high-publicity law enforcement effort that gives people more of a reason to buckle up - the increased threat of a traffic ticket. In Click It or Ticket programs, law enforcement agencies are asked to mobilize to focus on safety belt violations and publicize the stepped-up effort through news media and advertising.
It's the two-pronged approach that makes these campaigns powerful: Not only are tickets issued to unbelted motorists, but the surrounding publicity ensures that people know they are more likely to get a ticket. Maryland law enforcement is very active at both the State and local levels with the Click it or Ticket campaign. Nationally, the campaign is supported by radio and television media.
Buckle Up, Tough Guy
Conducted in partnership with local radio stations, Buckle Up Tough Guy is specifically geared toward targeting one of Maryland's most notoriously difficult to reach audiences - pickup truck drivers. With a safety belt use rate far below that of automobile drivers, this campaign provides a mechanism to reach out to pickup truck drivers with specific messaging and media.
The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is the first and only national non-profit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury - the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 State and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico comprise the Campaign. Maryland currently has individual state coalitions with the State SAFE KIDS Coordinator housed within SHA.
Maryland's SAFE KIDS units sponsor child safety seat checks, coordinate press events, and maintain information for use by parents and caregivers to keep children safe while traveling.
Data and finding our Target Audience
One unique project was done with the help of SHA's GIS Mapping Services Team, a group within the Highway Information Services Division, the Maryland Highway Safety Office, and AllOver Media. Unbelted crash data was used to analyze geographic locations and roadway segments throughout the State that had higher than average crashes that involved unbelted occupants. AllOver Media provided locations of gas stations, which, when analyzed with the crash data, provided the most optimal locations to place media advertisements on the tops of gas pumps [see photo on the left].
Links to Other Occupant Protection and Child Safety Resources