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Seat Belt Safety


Seat belt use messaging is essential to any road safety communication plan. 

We offer communication resources, in English and Spanish, for year-round social norming messaging and messaging to be used during enforcement periods. While both enforcement and social norming campaigns help spread awareness and educate the public about the deadly consequences of not wearing a seat belt, it's important to understand the differences — and use the right communication material at the right time.

Social Norming

Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time.

This campaign runs year-round, when high-visibility enforcement is not taking place, and focuses on social norming as a way to encourage seat belt use.

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Click It or Ticket

This high-visibility enforcement campaign runs during specific times of the year. Messaging should include the consequences of not wearing a seat belt and be supported by increased law enforcement.

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Seat belt facts, stats and reports from NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis

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  • The national estimate of seat belt use during the day by adult front-seat passengers in 2023 was 91.9%.  
  • In 2021 more than one person on average died per hour (11,813 total people) while not wearing seat belts in passenger vehicle crashes.
  • Among young adults 18 to 34 killed while riding in passenger vehicles in 2021, more than half (59%) were completely unrestrained — one of the highest percentages for all age groups. 
  • Men make up the majority of those killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Men are also overrepresented in unrestrained fatalities with 54 percent of men (8,367 people) and 42 percent of women (3,428 people) dying without a seat belt in passenger vehicle crashes in 2021. 
  • Vehicle type: There seems to be a misconception among those who drive and ride in pickup trucks that their large vehicles will protect them better than other vehicles would in a crash. The numbers say otherwise: 61% of pickup truck occupants who were killed in 2021 were not buckled. That’s compared to 47% of passenger car occupants who were not wearing seat belts when they were killed. Regardless of vehicle type, seat belt use is the single most effective way to stay alive in a crash.
  • Seating position: Too many people wrongly believe they are safe in the back seat unrestrained. Fifty percent of all front-seat passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2021 were unrestrained, but 57% of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.
  • Rural versus urban locations: People who live in rural areas might believe their crash exposure is lower, but in 2021, there were 11,922 passenger vehicle fatalities in rural locations, compared to 11,683 fatalities in urban locations. Out of those fatalities, 51% of those killed in the rural locations were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 49% in urban locations. 
  • More people die unrestrained in passenger vehicle crashes at night (6,491) than during the day (5,205). In addition, a higher percentage of fatalities that occur at night are unrestrained (57%) than during the day (43%).

    For facts translated in Spanish, visit

Additional Resources