Safety belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives in 2011. For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent in an SUV, van or pickup and by 45 percent in a car.
If everyone buckled up, an additional 3,384 deaths could have been prevented. While the vast majority of drivers and front-seat passengers use safety belts, most people who die in crashes are not belted.
Belt laws increase belt use, especially with publicized enforcement. Belt use rates are higher in states with primary enforcement laws, which allow police to stop a driver solely for not using a safety belt. In states with secondary enforcement, police can only enforce the belt law if they have pulled over the driver for another violation first.