A newly released federal report gives residents of Washington State something to celebrate. According to the report, Washington State ranked No. 1 in seatbelt usage across the nation in 2011, with a seatbelt use rate of 97.5 percent. This marks the seventh consecutive year that residents of Washington State have ranked at 95 percent or above with regard to seatbelt usage. By comparison, the nation average is about 84 percent.
“News like this makes me proud to be living in Washington. Safe roadways are a team effort that includes everybody using their seat belts because they know that seat belts save lives,” said Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate that at least 225 lives were saved in the State of Washington during 2010 as a direct result of the use of a proper restraint device.
Washington State gives high priority to enforcement of vehicle restraint laws. Under the laws:
- All vehicle occupants must be properly restrained.
- The driver is legally responsible for properly securing all occupants under the age of 16.
- Occupants 16 and older are responsible for themselves and can receive a citation if not properly restrained.
- Children under 13 should ride in the back of the vehicle when it is practical to do so.
- Children up to 8 years old, or up to 4’9” (whichever comes first), must use a child restraint device.
- Restraints must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- A vehicle equipped with only a lap belt is exempt from the booster seat requirement for children weighing more than 40 pounds.
The Washington car accident attorneys at Mariano Morales Law urge all Washington residents to use their seatbelts and to properly restrain children in the vehicle at all times. Even a relatively minor collision can cause serious injuries when occupants of the vehicle are not properly restrained. Serious collisions, in turn, can become fatal when the occupants are not properly restrained. The difference really can be life and death. So keep up the good work, Washington residents, and stay buckled up!