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Teen Drivers Aren’t Getting the Seat Belt Message

A survey shows one quarter of teens don’t use seat belts.

Teens die from driving accidents more than from any other cause of death, about 2,500 teens died in vehicle crashes in 2012. And in half of those fatalities, the teen was not wearing a seat belt. Kate Carr runs Safe Kids Worldwide, an advocacy network that conducted the survey on teens and seat belt use. She says they asked 1,000 teen drivers and passengers about why they do or do not use a seat belt.

“They gave us a few reasons and the top one was that they forgot or they weren’t in the habit of buckling up, and that was 34 percent of kids said that. Another reason was they weren’t traveling too far. Yet the majority of accidents occur within close proximity to a home,” Carr said.

 Another reason was the seat belt being uncomfortable. And a third of respondents said they didn’t use a seat belt because they were on the way to a party. That may be because teens squeeze extra people into the car and there aren’t enough seat belts for everyone.

Carr says proper seat belt use starts with parents.

“So if we’re setting a pattern for our kids, we can expect that they’ll probably imitate what we do,” Carr said. “In fact, teens who didn’t buckle up frequently had parents who didn’t buckle up. So being a good role model and setting a great example is an extremely important thing to do.”

 About 25 percent of teens surveyed reported not using a seat belt on every ride. That’s compared to about 15 percent of adults who don’t always use seat belts.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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