How Seat Belt Use in Oregon and Washington Affects Auto Accident Injuries and Fatalities

Seat belt use can drastically reduce auto accident fatalities and catastrophic injuries. While Oregon and Washington drivers exceed the national seat belt use rate, accidents happen and you may need to enlist the help of an attorney to collect compensation.

While most Americans wear seatbelts, this wasn’t always the case. Only about 10 percent of Americans wore seat belts as recently as the 1980s, igniting a series of safety campaigns and legislation to encourage people to buckle up while riding in a car. Seat belts can dramatically reduce the number of auto accident fatalities, especially as they prevent occupants from being ejected from the vehicle upon impact. Additionally, seat belts often lessen the severity of auto accident injuries. Let’s take a look at how seat belt use in Oregon and Washington compares to other states and how buckling up can reduce catastrophic injuries and fatalities.

Seat Belts Save Lives and Prevent Catastrophic Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of people killed in auto accidents in 2009 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Data shows that seat belts reduce the risk of death (by 45 percent) and severe injury (by 50 percent) for drivers and front-seat passengers. More than 75 percent of people ejected during an auto accident die from their injuries, with people not wearing seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected during the impact. In just one year, auto accident fatalities and injuries cost $70 billion in medical costs and lost wages.

Oregon and Washington Seat Belt Use Remains High

Overall, seat belt use remains the highest among Western states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the nationwide seat belt use rate was 90.7 percent in 2019. California (96.0 percent), Oregon (95.7 percent), and Washington (93.1 percent) all exceeded the national rate in 2019. Overall, seat belt use remained higher in states with stricter enforcement laws—including Oregon and Washington—than in states with weaker or no seat belt enforcement laws. Self-reported seatbelt use was higher in urban counties (88.8 percent) than in rural areas (74.7 percent), with the rate of crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled twice as high in rural areas as in urban areas.

How a Portland and Vancouver Auto Accident Lawyer Can Help

Suffering an auto accident injury can present significant challenges and derail your life. Suddenly, you face an uncertain future that’s filled with expensive medical bills, lost wages, and lengthy physical recovery. However, you don’t have to go through this difficult period alone. Working with a trusted auto accident attorney can help you understand your options for securing the compensation you need to heal.


If you need help recovering compensation after an auto accident in the Portland or Vancouver area, call Henderson Taylor Law Firm today at (360) 737-1478 to speak with a trusted and compassionate attorney.