Study: Rural Americans less likely to wear seat belts

In 2014, death rates for adult drivers and passengers from motor vehicle accidents increased as areas became more rural.
By Amy Wallace   |   Sept. 22, 2017 at 11:20 AM
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Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that rural Americans are less likely to wear seat belts, are more likely to die to car crashes.

According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Rural Health Series, adult motor vehicle drivers and passengers in rural counties had motor vehicle death rates 3 to 10 times higher than adults living in urban counties.

"Although we know motor vehicle crash-related deaths have been historically higher in rural areas, this study shows that the more rural the area, the higher the risk," Laurie Beck, an epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, said in a press release. "It also helps us confirm what works to prevent these crash deaths, such as primary enforcement seat belt laws and seat belt use. These new findings will allow us to better target our prevention efforts as we work toward zero road traffic deaths in the U.S."

The study found overall lower seat belt use, higher death rates and a higher proportion of drivers and passengers who were not wearing seat belts at the time of a fatal crash in rural areas compared to urban areas.

The study found self-reported seat belt use was lower in rural counties with 74.7 percent in the most rural counties to 88.8 percent in the most urban areas.

Research showed that death rates in 2014 for adult drivers and passengers increased in the United States as areas became more rural.

Death rates per 100,000 population increased from 3.9 percent in urban counties to 40 percent in rural counties in the West, from 6.8 percent in urban counties to 29.2 percent in rural counties in the South, from 5.3 percent in urban counties to 25.8 percent in rural counties in the Midwest, and from 3.5 percent in urban counties to 10.8 percent in rural counties in the Northeast.

"We know seat belts save lives," CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said. "These findings remind us that no matter what kind of road you are traveling on, it is important for everyone to buckle up every time on every trip."

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