More people are buckling up when they get in their vehicles, according to a nationwide survey released today. The survey, conducted in June, said seat belt use in the United States was at 79 percent, four percentage points higher than the year before."This is absolutely beyond my wildest expectations," said Jeffrey Runge, head of theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA had hoped for 78 percent, according to the Associated Press.The survey found that sport utility vehicle and van users have the highest use rates, at 83 percent, while pickup passengers have the lowest rates, at 69 percent. Seat belt usage was highest in the West, at 84 percent, and the South, at 80 percent. It was lowest in the Midwest, at 75 percent, and the Northeast, at 74 percent, AP reported.The survey also found that belt use was 6 percent higher in states with primary seat beltlaws, which allow police to ticket occupants for failing to wear a seat belt. Twenty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have primary belt laws; their average usage rate was 83 percent.Runge said the increase in belt use will save 1,000 lives and prevent 16,000 injuries this year. He also estimated it will save $3.2billion in health care and other costs.The United States is still far behind Canada, Australia and some Western European countries, which have seat belt usage rates that exceed 90 percent, according to AP.