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Did I see you the other day?

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

I may have, but I likely wasn't looking at you; I was looking at or just above your shoulder to see if you were wearing your seatbelt. I was out and about in Missoula the other day conducting our annual Seat Belt Survey. What does that mean? Well, I stood at 11 different locations throughout Missoula, and I was checking to see if you were wearing your seat belt as you drove by.

Steve Schmidt, the Coordinator for Drive Safe Missoula, puts a tic mark in a note book while observing a driver of a Subaru who is wearing their seat belt as they drive around a round about.  #DrvieSafeMissoula

Here is a list of the locations we've been monitoring each year for at least the last 8 years.

  1. Reserve & Mullan

  2. Reserve & South

  3. Arthur & 5th

  4. Mount & Stephens

  5. Russell & 39th

  6. Paxon & Brooks

  7. Russell & 10th

  8. Bancroft & South

  9. Higgins & Brooks

  10. Pattee & Broadway

  11. Spruce & Scott (Pictured above)

This year I counted a total of 4883 vehicles, and 4505 were buckled up. This means that 92.3% of Missoula drivers are buckled up.

Graph showing a line from 2019 to 2021 that shows Missoula Seat Belt Usage numbers for all vehicles.   in 2019 92.1% of drivers were buckled up.  In 2020 92.2% were buckled and in 2021 that increased to 92.3%.

Back in 1987, the seatbelt usage rate was only about 34%. Back then, 34% was enough to generate a hand-drawn smiley face next to the number.

1987 Missoula Area Seat Belt Stats.  34% of Missoula drivers were wearing a seatbelt.  This number generated a hand drawn smiley face.  Today just over 92% of Missoula drivers wear their seat belt.  #DriveSafeMissoula

There was a slight 1% decrease in seatbelt use with occupants of Pickup. The drop was from 88% last year to 87% this year. Pickup occupants have historically had a lower seatbelt usage percentage than other vehicles. If we don't count Pickup, the overall seatbelt usage percentage would be above 94%.

Missoula Seat Belt Usage Graph for Pickups showing that 87% of Pickup occupants who were wearing their seatbelts.  88% were wearing their seatbelts in 2020 and 86.4 were wearing their seatbelts in 2019.

Some of my other observations

I find it extremely interesting that so many people, in this day and age, still not wearing their seat belts. Russel and 10th had the lowest percentage of overall seatbelt usage at 89.4%. The highest? Mullan and Reserve with an overall seatbelt usage rate of 95.3%

I also noticed an excessive number of people on their phones. I am not talking about using their phones while stopped. I'm talking about looking down at their phone as they drive through an intersection. I'm sure you are not surprised by this.

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of drivers were paying attention to their driving. Although I witnessed several close calls, including one person flying through (35+ MPH) a 4 way stop in a school zone, thankfully, I didn't see any crashes.

I would really like to thank all of you who safely drove by me. Thanks for paying attention. Thanks for wearing your seatbelts, and as always, Drive Safe, Missoula.

Drive Safe Missoula Logo with a Seatbelt wrapped around the license plate. #DriveSafeMissoula

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