Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida

Florida’s statewide safety belt use rate for 2023 is 89.4 percent, an improvement from the 2022 result of 88.3 percent. This annual statewide survey is primarily designed to provide a single safety belt usage estimate for the entire State of Florida, not official county rates. However, these rates are still helpful as they can serve as reference points for changes between years.

Out of the three counties surveyed in our 18-county district, the total number of Observed Front-Seat Occupants, including drivers and passengers, was 5,413.

2023 Survey Results for Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida

  • Alachua County 90.6% (down from 90.8% in 2022 and 95% in 2021)
  • Duval County 86.2% (down from 87.5% in 2022 and 87.3% in 2021)
  • St Johns County 89.3% (up from 86.6% in 2022 and down from 92.1% in 2021)

Notably, the sites used in the 2022 and 2023 surveys differed from previous years, potentially influencing the shift in survey numbers. Alachua and St. Johns yielded their lowest usage over the five measurements in the survey for the years 2017 through 2022. Some decreases could be due to the different areas where new sites are located.

Despite the year-to-year decrease, safety belt usage generally shows an upward trend. However, the recent pullback does indicate that occupant protection programs should still seek to increase safety belt usage among the disproportionately low-use groups identified in this survey.

Occupant Protection Messages in Response to Low Usage Rates

The low safety belt usage groups identified include pickup truck occupants, male passengers, occupants between the ages of 16-34, and black occupants.

Occupants Ages 16-34: Be Savvy… Buckle Up
Occupants in Pickups: Buckle Up in Your Truck

Additional Occupant Protection Tips, Information, and Resources

  • Wear your seat belt for every ride.
  • Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
  • Secure children in a proper child safety seat.
  • Safety belt use isn’t just a good idea; IT’S THE LAW.

The Traffic Safety Team provides a variety of occupant protection materials:

Safety Belt Law History

In 1986, Florida implemented its first adult safety belt law. Safety belt use before the law was at 22% statewide. From 1999 to 2004, Florida’s use rate increased from 59% to just over 76% due to FDOT’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign and other efforts across the state. In 2009, Florida passed a primary enforcement safety belt bill, and safety belt use has increased since the law’s passage. Working together, we can continue to increase safety belt use and reduce fatalities and injuries on our roadways.

“Always Buckle Up … for Your Family. For Yourself. For LIFE.” 
No Regrets When You BUCKLE UP!

Read more: Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida

Survey Results in 2021 for Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida and Statewide

According to the 2021 survey by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), statewide use of safety belts increased slightly, from 89.8% in 2019 to 90.1% in 2021. Of the 18 counties in FDOT District Two, three were surveyed in 2021. Safety belt use in Northeast Florida increased in two out of the three counties surveyed. We are proud of both Alachua (95%) and St. Johns (92.1%) for making the list of high-usage counties!

Survey Results and Trends

Florida’s 2021 survey results show safety belt use differed by road type. Motorists on higher speed roads are buckling up more, while usage on local, lower speed roads are least likely buckled up. The highest use of safety belts was on interstate highways, at 93.1%, followed by principal arterials at 91.9%. The lowest usage was on local roads, at 87.6%, and minor arterials at 87.3%.

Safety belt usage also differed by vehicle type. Occupants in pickup trucks have exhibited lower usage than those in other vehicle types every year of the survey. SUV occupants frequently used their safety belts at 93.7%, car occupants at 90%, van occupants at 89.9%, and pickup occupants at 81.6%.

Survey results consistently indicated that females were more likely to wear a safety belt every year. In 2021, 92.9% of females buckled up, versus men, at 87.6%.

Occupants ages 35–39 buckled up 91.8% of the time, and those ages 16–34 buckled up the least, at 88.7%. Prior surveys show a similar pattern in usage among age groups. 

Overall, safety belt usage has shown an upward trend over time. The 2021 results indicate progress in use among occupants traveling on higher-speed roadways and certain types of vehicles (SUVs). Results also indicate where improvement is still needed among the low belt use groups, including occupants of pickup trucks, black occupants, and occupants traveling on lower-speed roadways.

FDOT State Safety Office administered the annual survey. State survey sites and locations were based on recent traffic fatality counts in 15 Florida counties. Click here to view the Safety Belt Use in Florida 2021 Final Report. (Note: No survey was conducted in 2020.)


Alachua County Safety Belt Use Rates Highest in Florida in 2021

Congratulations, Alachua County, for having the highest usage rates in the state again! Survey results showed that Alachua equaled its highest-ever use rates, at 95.0%, and ranked #1 overall statewide. Alachua has been a long-time winner with buckling up. We are proud of Alachua for consistently remaining at the top of usage rates in Florida.  

St. Johns County Rates High in Safety Belt Use in 2021

Kudos to St. Johns County for maintaining an above-average usage rate. St. Johns came in at the fifth-highest county in the state with a 92.1% safety belt use rate (a tie with Lee County). Since 2018, St. Johns has rated over 90% safety belt use.

Duval County Safety Belt Use Needs Improvement

We have work to do in Duval County! Of the 2021 counties surveyed, Duval ranked the secondlowest safety belt use rate in the state, at 87.3% (followed only by Volusia at 84.%). Plans are for extensive efforts to provide resources, tools, and support to Duval County by educating others on the importance of buckling up. The FDOT District Two Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) has many occupant protection resources on its website and social media platforms.