Mass Highway Safety Campaign Urges Drivers to Buckle Up

The Massachusetts Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security today unveiled an education campaign aimed at convincing men age 18-34 — the population with the lowest seat belt use rate — to buckle up.  The campaign is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Click It or Ticket effort to save lives by increasing seat belt use.

The Massachusetts seat belt use rate of 74 percent is below the national average of 89 percent.   Nationally within the 18-34 age group, men who were killed in crashes were unbuckled/unrestrained nearly 59 percent of the time.

“It’s hard to get guys this age to wear their seat belts, despite all the evidence, they feel invincible,” said Jeff Larason, Director of the Highway Safety Division. “By not wearing a seat belt, they are significantly increasing their chances ofgetting seriously injured or killed in a crash.”

Contributing to the low use rate among men ages 18 to 34 is that many of them drive pick-up trucks and commercial vehicles, which they mistakenly believe offer protection in a crash.  The use rates for pick-up and commercial truck drivers are 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

The public information campaign will run on television targeting male audiences, and also will include ads at gas station pumps and sports venues (see links to TV spots and billboard creative below).

“Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect yourself against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers,” said Larason. “Seat belt usage and fatality rates have a direct correlation.  We urge motorists to buckle up no matter how short the trip, and ensure that children are properly restrained in the appropriate child safety seat or booster seat.”

The state’s effort to increase seat belt usage will also include additional state and local police enforcement of the seat belt and child passenger safety laws during the campaign, which will run from May 9th through May 23rd.   More than 200 local police departments will join the state police in the enforcement mobilization.

Massachusetts seat belt data shows that:

  • Males have a lower seat belt use rate (66.68 percent) than females (82.59 percent).
  • Of the 201 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in 2014, 60 percent were known to be unrestrained
  • Essex County and Bristol County had the lowest seat belt use rates in the state (both at 70 percent).
  • Bristol, Middlesex and Worcester counties had the highest number of unrestrained fatalities from 2009 – 2013.
  • Unrestrained fatalities occurred most often during the weekend (Sat/Sun) and between thehours of 9pm-3am
  • Seatbelt use in Massachusetts is generally lower in minority populations (African-American – 70.54 percent, Hispanic – 51.81 percent, White – 75.27 percent).

Massachusetts law requires all occupants to be properly restrained by safety belts when riding in a private passenger motor vehicle, including vans and trucks. Fines begin at $25 per violation.

Massachusetts Enhanced Child Passenger Safety Law requires children riding as passengers in motor vehicles to be in a Federally-approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old or over 57 inches tall. Children older than 8 years old or taller than 57 inches must wear safety belts. Seat belt violations are subject to a fine up to $25.

Massachusetts has over 150 locations where parents and caregivers can have their child’s car seat checked to be sure it’s installed properly. Call your local police or fire station for more information, or visit

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