PUBLISHED: 4:24 PM on Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Alaska seat belt usage achieves record high
JUNEAU - The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Alaska Highway Safety Office (AHSO) reports 84.9 percent of Alaskans currently use their seat belts, a 2.5 percentage point increase from the 82.4 percent rate in 2007.

"Seat belt use in Alaska rose 29 percent between 2002 and 2008," said AHSO administrator Cindy Cashen. "Alaska became a primary enforcement state May 1, 2006, allowing a law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle if the occupants were not wearing seat belts."

Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, but 10 of the 30 Alaska motorists killed between January and July this year, were not seat belted.

The highest seat belt usage rates are drivers and passengers in vans, particularly in Anchorage at 90.2 percent. Kenai car occupants were observed to be the most reluctant to buckle up with a percentage low of 65.3. The greatest increase occurred in Juneau, with 81.5 percent compared to a 2007 rate of 77 percent. There was an increase in seat belt use observed in every type of vehicle and in every borough.