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.

2023 Annual Report with Crash Data

We are providing the FDOT District Two Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) 2023 Annual Report with crash data as a resource for our local team members, agencies, and partners. In addition, we have crash fact sheets for each of the 18 Northeast Florida counties in our district.

2023 Annual Report with Crash Data

CTSP 2023 Annual Report with Crash Data

The annual report includes highlights and crash data from our 18-county district. These crash fact reports are a great evaluation tool as we work toward reducing injuries and deaths on our roadways and helping build a “traffic safety culture.” This culture prioritizes safety, encourages safe road user behavior, and facilitates stakeholder cooperation. Click here to view our FDOT D2 CTSP Annual Report PDF.

In 2023, the District Two Community Traffic Safety Teams successfully facilitated engineering concerns and assisted in distributing safety materials and education outreach efforts within their communities. These achievements, driven by local data to address concerns focused on the Strategic Highway Safety Plan emphasis areas, are a testament to our commitment and progress towards Target Zero goals.

District Two Crash Data Summaries

This year, we created individual crash fact sheets for all 18 counties with crash, fatality, and serious injury totals from 2023 and the previous four years. They align with the Strategic Highway Safety Plan emphasis areas. These areas, which cover roadways, user behaviors, and road users, are critical to our current safety initiatives. The fact sheets provide key takeaways for each emphasis area, such as the number of crashes during daylight vs. night, male vs. female, and urban vs. rural factors, highlighting the relevance of the data to our targeted messaging.

In conclusion, these reports and crash facts are great evaluation tools. They assist us as we work toward reducing injuries and deaths on our roadways. This culture prioritizes safety and encourages safe road user behavior. 

Traffic Safety Bookmarks

25 Years of Bookmarks!

The Northeast Florida Community Traffic Safety Program started developing relationships with local libraries and schools in 1999. Traffic safety tips for kids were shared primarily on bookmarks, which led to activity books, tip cards, and even schoolbook cover wraps. In 2017, we targeted messages toward drivers and children on our bookmarks. In 2021, activity cards were created for libraries with bike, walk, ride, and drive safe education and puzzles like crosswords, mazes, word searches, and coloring activities.

This year, we are showcasing a new bookmark with our rural, country-themed “Life is a journey” campaign. The messages encourage positive driving behaviors to tackle aggressive speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving, and buckling up. We have an updated traffic safety bookmark with cute animals targeted at young children. Another bookmark focuses on occupant protection for all passengers and child passenger safety. Finally, we created one for preteens and young adults with pedestrian and bicycle safety reminders. Here’s a sneak peek.

New Bookmarks Coming to a Library Near You in 2024!

Life is a Journey. Focus on Driving bookmark
Life is a journey–Slow down!
Walk 'n Roll Safely bookmark for kids
Walk ‘n Roll Safely Kids!
Protect Your Precious Cargo, Always Buckle Up bookmark
Protect Your Precious Cargo!
Take Action for Your Safety bookmark for teens
Take Action for Your Safety!

Even in today’s digital world, our bookmarks have continued to be popular. Traffic safety materials are available in bookmobiles and neighborhood library branches throughout District Two’s 18 county libraries.

Previous Traffic Safety Bookmarks

Continue Reading

Signal Four Analytics

On April 24, 2024, the District Two Traffic Safety Program held a virtual Districtwide Discussion about the power of data. The informational presentation offered an in-depth overview of FDOT Target Zero’s Signal Four Analytics public dashboard. Most importantly, these crash facts and research data are available to help improve traffic safety.

Signal Four Analytics Dashboard Overview Video

Tracking Target ZERO with Signal Four Analytics

  • County-specific crash fact reports with different Strategic Highway Safety emphasis areas are provided at monthly Traffic Safety Team meetings.
  • Safety grant funds are dependent upon data-based facts.
  • Understanding the data will help understand roadway and driver behaviors to make improvements, reduce fatalities, and work toward the Target ZERO.
  • Signal Four Analytics, Florida’s traffic safety public dashboard, is free and easy to use. 

Data-Driving Insight and Strategy

Our new rural-inspired campaign is an example of looking at the numbers and using that data to promote safer roads. After studying national reports and FDOT Target Zero’s Signal Four Analytics, we developed a country-themed “Buckle Up and Slow Down” message.

speeding, aggressive drivers, occupant protection, Country Buckle Up Belt and Slow Down Belt Buckle

We found an overrepresentation of fatality and injury crashes with young men, ages 18–24, in Northeast Florida rural counties caused by speeding and lower safety belt usage. We want young male drivers to change their attitudes about speeding and realize it’s not worth the risk to their lives or future. The goal is to make buckling up and driving at safe speeds the social norm. To learn more, go to our Slow Down post.

Levy and Suwannee are two counties in Northeast Florida with a population under 44,000. Compared with other similarly sized counties in Florida, they are ranked most problematic (#1 and #3) in terms of speed and teen drivers, per the FY2024 Highway Safety Matrix.

Population is one factor not included in the Signal Four Analytics but often needs to be considered. We’ve had substantial population growth in our 18-county district, some counties much more than others. This graph shows the continual increase in our Northeast Florida area.

Together, we can enhance community traffic safety with crash data and Signal Four Analytics.

Traffic Safety Talk Newsletter

Welcome to our Traffic Safety Talk newsletter – the FDOT District Two Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) news and information update. Each issue includes recent projects, community outreach events, and safety campaigns. We discuss Traffic Safety Team materials and resources available for members. Digital flipbooks of the most recent newsletters are available. Additionally, we have included the PDF documents below to view current and past editions.

Current Traffic Safety Talk News Update • April 2024 Flip Book:

Click here for the new April Traffic Safety Talk PDF file. In this Bringing You Home Safely Since 1994 issue, various topics and projects include:

Continue Reading