Traffic Safety Officials Launch Seat Belt Campaign Focused on Seat Belt Holdouts

Olympia – The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is launching a statewide ad campaign focused on a small group of people:  those refusing to wear their seat belts.  The ad campaign begins on social media, radio and at select locations starting Monday, Nov. 16.

“Washington has a success story to tell when it comes to seat belts,” says Shelly Baldwin, WTSC legislative and media director. “More than 93 percent of Washingtonians buckle up. Most of us know that wearing a seat belt improves your chances of surviving a crash by 45 percent.  But despite our high seat belt use rate, 20 percent of people who died on Washington’s roads last year were not wearing their seat belts. That’s too many.  And we can do something about it.”

Crash deaths among unbelted vehicle occupants tended to be younger men. Of those who died unrestrained, 69 percent were male. The most frequent age range was 21-to-25 years old, followed by 36-40 years old.  WTSC’s ad campaign targets this younger, male demographic.

“The ads appeal to our shared desire for safety,” Baldwin said.  “Just as we practice physical distancing, wear masks and wash our hands frequently, we wear seat belts, because safety matters. At this time when we are focused on keeping each other safe, it’s the perfect time to remind everyone that safety also means buckling up.”

WTSC’s message will run on multiple social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and Hulu.

Additional Video included in the campaign features members of the Kalispel Tribe talking about why seat belt use is important to their families.  The videos use individuals who are influential with younger men, such as an artist, and the mother of a teenage son.  Another video uses humor to parody a “slasher” film to illustrate that not using a seat belt is scarier than being chased in the dark by masked man brandishing a chain saw.

“Getting that last 7 percent to buckle up is hard,” Baldwin said, “but we can do it if we all pitch in.  You can save a life today by encouraging friends and family to wear their seat belts.”  Baldwin said there were three steps people can take:

  • Model – always wear your seat belt
  • Discuss – speak with family members, especially young drivers, about the importance of seatbelt use
  • Advocate – say something when you see someone not wearing their seat belt.

“Safety matters to Washingtonians,” said Baldwin.  That’s what gives us hope that we can reach those not buckling up now.  The new ad campaign shares that hope, and we invite everyone to encourage seat belt safety with the people they care about.”

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 The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is our state’s designated highway safety office. We share a vision with numerous other state and local public agencies. That vision is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030. The WTSC Director is the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, which is a designated position each state is required to have in order to qualify for federal traffic safety funding.