April O'Neil / news@WHMI.com

A recent study from researchers at Michigan State University shows that seat belt use amongst Michigan drivers fell slightly in 2023, and the state’s usage rate has declined by 2% since 2019.

Results of a grant-funded direct observation study show that Michigan’s seat belt use rate was 92.4% in 2023- a decrease of 0.5% from the 92.9% recorded in 2022.

Results from the 2023 study, which was conducted between May and July, mark the lowest seat belt use since 2004, when it was 90.5%.

“Seat belts are the foundation of every effective traffic safety strategy and one of the easiest things drivers and passengers can do to be safe,” said Katie Bower, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). “Michigan was once a leading state in seat belt use. It should give all Michiganders pause to see that our state’s seat belt use rate continues to decrease- an alarming 2 percentage points since 2019. Drivers and passengers of all ages must buckle up, every trip, every time.”

The state’s highest seat belt use rate was 97.9% in 2009. Counties with the lowest belt use rates were generally rural counties in northern Michigan.

Seat belt use in Livingston County was recorded as one of the highest rates in the entire state, at 96.4%.

The MSU study also observed drivers’ use of electronic devices, encompassing talking and/or typing. The rate of Michigan drivers using an electronic device was 8.3%- a 2.2% increase from 2022.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the nationwide seat belt use rate was 91.6% in 2022.

The seat belt use rate for every Michigan county can be found at the provided link.