National Seat Belt Day

National Seat Belt Day is observed annually on November 14th to help encourage people to buckle up. The event was originated in 2019 by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), rideshare service Uber, and Volvo to celebrate the invention of the three-point seat belt in 1959 and promote the importance of using one every time they get in a vehicle.

While seat belts are easy to take for granted, they can make a huge difference between minor injuries and severe, life-threatening injuries or fatalities in a crash.

Ideas for National Seat Belt Day

  1. Buckle up – It takes seconds but can save you thousands of dollars in medical bills. More importantly, it can also save your life.
  2. Encourage others to wear seat belts – Be an example and insist that everyone in your car buckles up.
  3. Spread the news – Discuss the history and importance of wearing a seat belt at the dinner table with your family, at work with colleagues, and on social media with friends.
  4. Help Educate Children – Starting good habits at a young age will last a lifetime. Try our Buckle Up Buddy Heart craft and Ride Safe activity sheet!

Remind your friends and family that seat belts save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. In 2020, 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States. Among the young adults (18 to 34) killed, more than half (60%) were completely unrestrained — one of the highest percentages for all age groups. “Behind each of these numbers is a life tragically lost and a family left behind.” The simple act of using a safety seat belt can make the difference between life and death.

Five Fast Facts

  1. Seat belts reduce fatalities by 45% among front-seat passengers and drivers.
  2. Seat belts prevent serious injuries by 50%.
  3. The three-point seat belt disperses the energy of the moving body to the chest, pelvis, and shoulders, reducing whiplash and abdominal injuries.
  4. Airbags aren’t enough! The force of an airbag can seriously hurt or even kill passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts, and airbags don’t prevent passengers or drivers from being ejected during crashes.
  5. You have an influence! Research shows that children whose parents wear seat belts are more likely to buckle up. Parents, caregivers, and peers can impact and encourage teens to buckle up.

National Seat Belt Day is an excellent time to review your practices and ensure everyone in your household understands why seat belt use is essential. These are some simple things that you can do to improve the safety of you and your passengers:

  • Always buckle your seat belt before driving
  • Make sure the person in your passenger seat is buckled up
  • Insist that rear-seat passengers are buckled up, regardless of state laws
  • Refuse to go unless your passengers are buckled up
  • Understand Florida’s child seat belt laws  
  • Know Florida’s laws for your child safety seats and booster seats

The History of Seat Belts

Seat belts have been around since the 19th century. Edward J. Claghorn received the first U.S. patent for safety belts, but his design was not for cars. In the 1930s, physicians recommended lap belts in their vehicles and suggested manufacturers do the same in their models. Lap belts were used in public transport like streetcars, preventing passengers from flying out of their seats during accidents.

The first vehicle in the U.S. to offer seat belts as a safety option was the Nash Rambler, back in 1950 when seat belts were still a novelty. Despite growing evidence that they helped save lives and reduce injuries, critics still resisted their use, claiming they were ineffective and may trap passengers if their cars were on fire or submerged in water.

In 1958, Saab became the first vehicle manufacturer to fit seat belts as standard features. One year later, Nils Bohlin — Volvo’s first chief safety engineer — patented the three-point seat belt. It improved the rudimentary two-point seat belt, which sometimes did more harm than good in accidents. The Swedish carmaker created the three-point seat-belt system in 1959, which has since become the global standard.

Safety Seat Belts in America

After making the three-point seat belt standard in Sweden, Volvo released the patent so other car manufacturers could adopt this essential safety feature in their models. By 1968, seat belts were a standard requirement in all U.S.-manufactured vehicles. Today, seat belts are a valued safety mechanism in cars, helping to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in medical costs.

Seat belts have been standard in America for decades, though widespread use is a more recent occurrence. The good news is that primary seat belt use has been increasing; according to the GHSA, the national usage rate was 58% in 1994 and rose to 90% in 2018. Seat belt laws vary from state to state. Florida law requires that all drivers, all front seat passengers, and all passengers under the age of 18 fasten their safety belts. 

Seat belts are undeniably helpful in increasing the safety of drivers and passengers. The Community Traffic Safety Program in Northeast Florida hopes everyone wears a safety belt. Whether sitting in the driver’s seat or a passenger in the front seat or back, please buckle up! Also, ensure children are appropriately restrained in a federally approved car seat.

Additional Occupant Protection Information and Resources

Ride Safe Activity Cards

The Northeast Florida Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) distributed 15,000 Ride Safe Activity Cards throughout all 18 counties of FDOT District Two in May 2021. They are available for free at your local library.

Seat Belts Save Lives activity cards
Ride Safe Activity Cards – Buckle Up Activity Card with Occupant Protection and Child Passenger Safety Tips

Libraries are a wonderful place for community members to access educational and informational resources at no cost, and for our Community Traffic Safety Teams to promote key traffic safety messages, like driving safe, always wearing your safety belt, stopping distracted driving and sharing the road. This Ride Safe activity card is double-sided with a car safety crossword and child safety seat maze activity.

Seat Belts Save Lives activity card

We have also created this free digital, one-sided 8.5×11 Ride Safe, Occupant Protection resource available here for downloading, printing and sharing with your community.

The FDOT District Two covers 18 counties, from rural to urban communities. Our Northeast Florida CTSP has partnered with local, county public library systems for many years. Our goal is to help reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roadways through education and community outreach.

Ride Safe: Remember to Always Buckle Up for Every Car Ride!

This Ride Safe Activity Card, occupant protection and child passenger safety, free educational resource is part of a series. The Drive Safe and Bike Safe pieces are available online below, and Walk Safe will be distributed this Fall. Each piece has a different activity or puzzle with important traffic safety tips and reminders.

Bike Safe Activity Card

Pick up a free Bike Safe Activity Card at your local Northeast Florida library. The Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) distributed 15,000 Bike Safe activity cards this month to public libraries in all 18 counties of FDOT District Two. 

Be a Roll Model artwork
Bike Safe Activity Card with Traffic Safety Tips for Cyclists and Motorists

This Bike Safe Activity Card is double-sided with a helmet coloring page and a word search puzzle for kids or adults. There are bicycle safety messages for drivers and cyclists. The helmet safety rules are great for parents, caregivers and educators to discuss with children.

About the Bike Safety Activity Card Series

These free educational resources are part of a series that will be distributed quarterly this year. First, Drive Safe became available in January. Now, Bike Safe, launched in spring, which will be followed by Ride Safe this summer. Finally, Walk Safe in the fall. Each has a different activity or puzzle with important traffic safety tips and reminders.

The Northeast Florida CTSP has long since partnered with local, county public library systems. The FDOT District Two covers 18 counties, from rural to urban communities. Libraries are a wonderful venue for the public to access educational and informational resources. The are also a wonderful place for our Community Traffic Safety Teams to promote key traffic safety messages, like biking safe (wear a helmet) and driving safe (share the road).

Be a Roll Model activity card

We created this free digital, one-sided 8.5×11 Bike Safe sheet available here for downloading, printing and sharing with your community.

Our goal is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on our Northeast Florida roadways and protect all road users. Together, we can make traffic safety a top priority. Check out the other three safety and educational activity cards in this series below:

The Northeast Florida CTSP website has many tips and resources available. For more Bicycle Safety Tips, click here.

Drive Safe Activity Cards

The Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) distributed 15,000 Drive Safe activity cards throughout Northeast Florida in January. They are available for free at your local library.

Drive Safe Activity Card
Drive Safe Activity Card Available for Free at Northeast Florida Public Libraries

This Drive Safe activity card is double-sided with two coloring pages for kids or adults. There are traffic safety messages for drivers which are also great conversation starters for parents to discuss with children.

Download, print and share this free Drive Safe activity sheet here – a single sided, 8.5×11 print quality digital file.

The FDOT District Two covers 18 counties, from rural to urban communities. Our Northeast Florida CTSP has partnered with local, county public library systems for many years. Libraries are a wonderful venue for the public to access educational and informational resources, and for our Community Traffic Safety Teams to promote key traffic safety messages, like driving safe, always wearing your seat belt, stopping distracted driving and sharing the road.

These Drive Safe educational materials are part of a series that are also available: Bike Safe, Ride Safe and Walk Safe. Each has a different activity or puzzle with important traffic safety tips and reminders. Our goal is to help reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roadways. Together we can make traffic safety a top priority.

Buckle Up Religiously!

If you knew something you could do every day that would save you and your family from possible loss of life or serious injury, wouldn’t you do it? Buckle up every time you get in the car!

Buckling up is still the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries from crashes on our roadways. Did you know that…

  • Chances are that someone you know will be involved in a vehicle crash this year.
  • You are twice as likely to be severely injured or killed when unbuckled.
  • A child unrestrained in a 30 mph crash is the same as a child dropped from a third-story window.

One Click Does the Trick … wear your seat belt and secure all children in a proper child safety seat.

Buckle Up Religiously has been part of Northeast Florida’s ongoing occupant protection campaign for more than a decade. In 2022, a new graphic was introduced, and posters and banners will be distributed throughout our Northeast Florida communities.

Click to download and share this important traffic safety message.

Please tag us on social mediafor Facebook, Instagram: @trafficsafetyteam; for Twitter and Pinterest: @trafficsafetyfl Hashtag: #buckleupreligiously.

Buckle Up Religiously art
New 2020 Buckle Up Religiously Social Media Graphic

The following are some previous Buckle Up Religiously pieces created by the Northeast Florida Community Traffic Safety Program. These were popular handouts and inserts in local church bulletins. Share this tip card and flyer—on Facebook and Instagram: @trafficsafetyteam, Twitter and Pinterest: @trafficsafetyfl Hashtag: #buckleupreligiously

One Click Does the Trick art
Buckle Up Religiously Tip Card from 2015
Buckle Up Religiously art
Buckle Up Religiously Flyer from 2012

For more traffic safety information, tips and resources please visit our Occupant Protection – Buckle Up webpage and Child Passenger Safety – Car Seat Crusaders.