Driver Behavior

The choices drivers make when they get behind the wheel of their vehicle play a large part in the safety of American highways. Public Citizen supports campaigns to increase seatbelt use and to decrease intoxicated and distracted driving, particularly those that incorporate primary enforcement laws, which have been proven to be the most effective means of increasing belt use and sober driving. Government data shows that belt use is increasing each year, reaching an all-time high of 79 percent, and that alcohol-involvement in fatal crashes has declined significantly in the past two decades. On the rise, however, are incidences of cell phone-related distracted driving crashes.

While the rate of sober and belted drivers has increased, the auto industry continues to hide behind arguments about drunk and unbelted driving in order to avoid admitting their culpability in safety debates.

It is also important to recognize that not all seatbelts are equally safe in all types of crashes. Recent recalls on defective belts and discoveries of belt failure in rollover crashes point to the need for increased attention on not only the use, but the performance, of safety belts.