WASHINGTON -- A new study of crash fatality data from 2000-2004 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that motor vehicle occupants have a 17 percent greater chance of being killed if they are in a crash in a state with a secondary enforcement seat belt law than in a state with a stronger primary enforcement law. The study found that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in states not having primary enforcement laws was 1.21, compared to 1.03 in states with primary enforcement, or 17 percent higher. The fatality rate per 100,000 population was 23 percent higher in states not having primary enforcement laws. Fatality rates were higher for all age groups in the states not having primary enforcement seat belt laws. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have passed primary enforcement laws allowing law enforcement officers to stop and ticket drivers based solely on a seat belt violation. According to the NHTSA, seat belt use averages 11 percentage-points higher in states that have primary enforcement laws, which cover more than 62 percent of the U.S. population.
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