CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – Governor Jim Justice and his Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) announced on Dec. 15 that the statewide seat belt usage rate for 2022 came in at 92.5 percent, exceeding the national average of 90 percent.

“It just doesn’t get better than being able to say West Virginians are using their seatbelts more than ever before,” Gov. Justice said. “These seatbelt numbers are off the chart impressive, and I’m so glad to know West Virginians are being as safe as possible when they’re on our roads. Especially this time of year when the roads are getting slick, and it gets dark early, making sure you’re safe in a vehicle is important. Thank you, West Virginia, for taking care of yourselves and your family.”

To conduct the scientific study, observations were scheduled randomly every day between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. An independent firm certified the results to ensure accuracy and objectivity. According to a release from the governor’s office, seat belt usage has increased substantially over the past nine years.

“West Virginians are getting the message: seat belts save lives,” GHSP Director Bob Tipton said. “Roadway fatalities in West Virginia have decreased from 432 in 2007 to 267 in 2020. Crash data shows that seat belt use saves lives and prevents serious injuries. We strive to make sure drivers and passengers know how to correctly buckle up and to ensure children are properly restrained in a car seat or booster appropriate for their weight and height.”

The primary seat belt law in 2013, the GHSP Click It or Ticket campaigns, high visibility law enforcement and education are instrumental in increasing West Virginia’s seat belt usage, according to a release from the governor’s office.

“You know, ultimately our goal is to not necessarily write a bunch of seat belt citations, but our goal is for everyone to be wearing their seatbelts,” said Jamie Wilhite, Governor’s Highway Safety Office regional coordinator.

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2011 shows that using lap and shoulder combination seat belts reduce the risk of a fatal injury to front seat car passengers by 45 percent and reduce the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.