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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ohioans Who 'Buckle Up' Are Soccer Moms in Minivans

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Women have a higher rate of seatbelt use than men in Ohio. And minivan occupants -- those famous soccer moms -- are the most likely to be buckled up of all. They have a near-total safety belt usage rate. Guess who does worst? Ohioans in pickup trucks. Those drivers and passengers are in their seatbelts just 74% of the time, which a state report says is "significantly lower than occupants of passenger cars (82%), minivans (87%) and SUVs (83%)."

The data was compiled by Miami University Middletown's applied research center for the Governor's Highway Safety Office. State officials hope Ohio achieves an 85% seat belt usage rate by mid-year, a goal that could be out of reach. Last year, only 81.7% of Ohioans used seat belts, and females were the ones showing the most common sense. "Female vehicle occupants have a higher rate of safety belt use than male occupants," the report said. Senior citizens ages 65 and older almost always were buckled up -- 88% of the time.

Results of the annual survey are HERE. Retired Ohio Highway Patrol officers were hired to make observations at 265 sites around the state. They peeked to see how 23,668 people used seat belts while driving.

Interestingly, Northeast and Southeast Ohio both had an 80% usage rate, the worst. SW Ohio was best at 84%, followed by Central Ohio (83%) and Northwest Ohio (81%).

Ohio's goal is to cut traffic fatalities to one death per 100 million miles traveled. To do that, the state's traffic deaths have to drop to about 1,120 by 2008. While there is widespread agreement that seat belts safe lives, the restraints don't stop all deaths. In 2002, 414 Ohioans died while buckled up. But 638 perished without bothering to click it. In 2005, the number was 409 in belts versus 522 without.

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