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Hawai‘i Ranks No. 1 in Seat Belt Use in 2019

July 12, 2020, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated July 11, 6:18 PM
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Hawai‘i ranked number one in the nation for seat belt use in 2019, according to recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Hawai‘i was the only state to reach the 97th percentile, with a seat belt usage rate of 97.1%.

“Our high usage rate demonstrates Hawai‘i residents understand the importance of buckling up,” said Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Highways Deputy Director Ed Sniffen. “Let’s keep it up and pass on the message to buckle up every trip, every time.”

Hawai‘i Police Department’s Area II Assistant Chief Robert Wagner said they do notice a high compliance rate for seat belts in the Kona area, adding officers average 60 citations a month consistently. However, the chief added, the amount of citations issued versus another agency handing out citations is not a reflection of seat belt compliance.

“But if we went out there more often, we would likely give more, and if we went out there less, we would likely give less,” Wagner said.

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Wagner couldn’t speak to the national ranking, however, he said some agencies do stand at street corners counting compliance in the Kona area, to determine what percentage of drivers are complying with the law.

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The police do not do that, Wagner said.

Citations generally reflect the time put into enforcing that particular law, not a true gauge of what is actually happening, Wagner added.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign has been postponed to November. All motorists are reminded that enforcement of Hawai‘i’s seat belt and child passenger restraint laws is conducted year-round, day and night.

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