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Crisis-level fatalities caused by unbuckled vehicle occupants

Last summer, the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign highlighted the need for drivers and passengers to buckle up. However, the latest awareness campaign comes in the shadow of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics revealing startling statistics.

Fifty percent of passenger vehicle occupants lost their lives due to not buckling up in 2021.

Deaths on the increase

The NHTSA’s annual Occupant Protection Traffic Safety report cites pickup truck drivers and their passengers as the highest number of unrestrained deaths in nearly 20 years. Breakdowns see 60 percent of pickup truck drivers and 64 percent of passengers tragically dying.

Passengers going without seatbelts in passenger vehicles died in crashes in 2018, numbered 9,545 deaths. Three years later, in 2021, 11,813 (45 percent) of passengers tragically died. SUV drivers accounted for 49 percent of SUV drivers, with van drivers coming in at 44 percent.

Additional statistics include:

  • Gender numbers reveal that 54 percent of men died in unrestrained accidents, with women at 42 percent.
  • Forty-three percent were sitting in the front row, and 57 percent were in the second row.
  • Time of day also played a role, with 57 percent of deaths at night and 43 percent who perished during the day.

Promising news comes from the 2021 NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPU). Estimates surrounding seatbelt use saw an increase from 86.1 percent in 2012 to 90.4 percent in 2021.

Ever-evolving technology has made motor vehicles safe for both drivers and passengers. However, seatbelt warnings only go as far as the operator responding to alerts. The simple act of “buckling up” has made strides. However, that progress is not enough when considering the countless deaths.

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