|Title:||Seat Belt Use on ND Rural Roads|
|Publication Date:||Feb 2011|
North Dakota's rural roads provide vital social and commercial links for a widely dispersed population. Approximately 55% of the state's travel, in vehicle-miles, takes place on rural roads. 26% of travel is attributed to rural roads (U.S. Department of Transportation [DOT] 2007). This high level of rural travel poses an inherent challenge because the risk for serious injury and death on rural roads is relatively high compared to their urban counterparts (U.S. DOT 2005, U.S. DOT 2009a).
With the understanding that seat belts are a relatively low-cost safety device, and are an easy primary protection for occupants in passenger vehicles, North Dakota continues to work to measure rural road seat belt use. The U.S. Department of Transportation works with states to measure seat belt use through the annual National Occupant Passenger Use Survey (NOPUS). However, NOPUS does not include observation sites on local rural roads –the location for 1 in every 3 fatal crashes during the past five years (NDDOT 2008).