Audit Reports

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Review of NHTSA’s Progress in Implementing Strategies to Increase the Use of Seat Belts

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We publicly released our review of NHTSA’s progress in implementing strategies to increase the use of seat belts. Over the last 8 years, the national rate of seat belt use has increased only 1 percent a year. Rising from 14 percent in 1984 to 73 percent in 2001, 52 percent of the increase had occurred by 1993 when 49 states and the U.S. territories passed mandatory use laws. Unless additional states enact and enforce laws, we see no basis for increases above the recent trend. Maintaining the gains of the last 8 years will depend on how aggressively and consistently NHTSA and the states implement high-profile enforcement activities such as “Click It or Ticket.” We recommended that NHTSA: (1) direct its regional offices to develop a detailed, time-phased plan encouraging each state to implement successful strategies for seat belt use and (2) continue to emphasize high-profile law enforcement activities. NHTSA concurred and has begun to take action.