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As motorists prepare to hit the roadways this holiday season, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) urges drivers and passengers to buckle up—every seat—every time as they travel to their destinations.

MDOT MVA’s 2017 Roadside Observational Survey, which was just completed, evaluated 50,000 roadside seat belt observations in 13 jurisdictions across the state. The survey results showed that 92 percent of Maryland drivers and front-seat passengers wear seat belts when driving on state roadways. This figure represents an increase from a 90.8 percent usage rate in 2016. Unfortunately, with the rise in seat belt usage on state roads, a decline in seat belt use on local and rural roadways also was discovered – 85.1 percent use in 2017, down from 86.1 percent during the same period in 2016. In addition, only 84 percent of back seat occupants in cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks buckled up in 2017.

“We are proud to see an increase in the number of people wearing seat belts on our state roads; however, we are losing too many people in Maryland because they did not take the time to buckle their seat belt,” said Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.

The biggest rise in seat belt usage was seen in Frederick and Carroll counties, where rates rose by 4.9 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. The survey also recorded decreases in Anne Arundel and Washington counties, where rates dropped by 1.5 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.

Seat belt usage is very important to the safety of all vehicle occupants. In Maryland, nearly 43% of all drivers or passengers who were killed in a crash in 2016 were unbelted at the time of impact. Because unbelted passengers are not secured, they easily become projectiles in a crash, causing serious injuries or death to other passengers.

“During the holiday season, regardless of how far you are traveling, make sure to buckle up, along with all passengers in your car,” said Christine Nizer, MDOT MVA Administrator and Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We don’t want to lose another life because someone wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.”

To combat the incidence of seat belt non-compliance and impaired driving this holiday, law enforcement will be out in full force across the state to stop drunk and drugged drivers and seat belt violators – the latter will cost motorists an $83 fine. Wearing a seat belt is the best defense against an impaired, aggressive or distracted driver.

MDOT MVA offers the following tips this holiday season to stay safe while traveling:

• Keep your eyes on the road. Driving demands your full attention. • Drive sober and plan for a sober ride home. Use transit, call a cab or a rideshare service.
• Always buckle up: every seat, every time, day and night.

To learn more about the MDOT MVA’s Maryland Highway Safety Office’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign, visit: