Chattanooga, TN – According to the survey, Tennessee boasts a statewide seat belt usage rate of 92 percent for 2023. This marks a notable increase of approximately 1.5 percent from the 2022 survey result of 90.5 percent, making it the highest annual seat belt usage rate recorded in the state thus far.

THSO Director Buddy Lewis emphasized the critical role of seat belts in saving lives, stating, “Seat belts save lives.” He underscored the survey’s purpose in helping THSO and traffic safety partners identify demographic groups and geographical areas requiring additional support to enhance seat belt usage. The ultimate goal is to reach a larger segment of drivers to mitigate traffic injuries and fatalities across Tennessee.

Each year, THSO undertakes initiatives to bolster the state’s seat belt usage rate through enhanced occupant protection education. Programs like Ollie Otter, Reduce TN Crashes, and other grant-funded initiatives play a crucial role in this endeavor. THSO also actively promotes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign to reinforce the importance of buckling up among citizens.

Key highlights from Tennessee’s 2023 seat belt survey include:

– Research data was gathered from 190 pre-determined roadway locations statewide.
– Nearly 27,000 vehicle occupants were observed during the survey period, encompassing passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs.
– The highest seat belt usage rate was noted among occupants in sport utility vehicles (96.1 percent), while the lowest rate was observed among occupants in pickup trucks (82.4 percent).
– Female occupants exhibited a higher usage rate (97.6 percent) compared to males (88.4 percent).
– Front-seat passengers demonstrated a higher usage rate (93 percent) in comparison to drivers (91.8 percent).
– Among the surveyed counties, 11 out of 16 exceeded a seat belt usage rate of 90 percent.
– Davidson and Knox Counties tied for the highest usage rate (95.1 percent) among the sampled counties.

The data was collected through an annual roadside observational survey conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Transportation Research during the spring of 2023, adhering to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Uniform Criteria for State Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use.