Story last updated at 1/8/2014 - 5:53 pm
JUNEAU — The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Program completed an observation survey of vehicles in Juneau, according to a release from the organization that showed lower than average seat belt use among its Alaska Native population.
Wearing a seat belt is the law in Alaska.
In the seat belt use study, SEARHC observers made 688 total observations in 41 locations (588 drivers, 100 passengers). The drivers used seat belts 76.7 percent of the time, passengers 66 percent of the time, for a total seat belt usage of 75.1 percent. The 75.1 percent total usage was lower than the city’s average of 81.6 percent, the state average of 85.7 percent, and the national average of 86 percent, according to the release.
The program used procedures adapted from the Indian Health Service Ride Safe Program for its observational study, observing vehicles driving in areas of Juneau likely to have high Alaska Native/American Indian use (such as the roads to SEARHC or other tribal facilities).
According to the Centers for Disease Control seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. Those not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash and more than three out of four people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.
Increasing seat belt use is critical to reduce injury and saving lives and SEARHC has one more year in a four-year grant to increase seat belt use to 90 percent. To reach that goal, the high school buckle up campaigns and the support of the Click it or Ticket educational campaigns in Juneau will be instrumental.