Fewer young people in Florida and in the Jacksonville area are dying in car accidents. Fewer young people in Florida are dying in car accidents because more of them are wearing their seat belts. Over the last four years the use of seat belts among young drivers and passengers in Florida has increased. As one 20-year-old driver puts it, “It’s just automatic to me.”
The new trend among teenage and young 20-something drivers and passengers is to buckle up. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, there has been a 50 percent decline in the number of highway fatalities for drivers ages 16 to 21 over the last four years in the counties of Duval, St. Johns and Clay. In 2007 there were 65, 16-to-21-year-olds that died in car accidents in the First Coast. Last year there were only 35 car accident deaths within the same age group. Twenty-seven of those 35 were not wearing a seat belt.
Across the state of Florida seat belt use has risen to its highest level where 87.4 percent of Florida drivers and passengers used seat belts in 2010. The other percentage that choose to forego seat belts last year is unnecessarily putting themselves at risk. One of the easiest things to do to reduce death or serious injury in a car accident is to buckle up.
While there are no estimates as to the number of young people that wear seat belts, the information on deadly car accidents suggests more are making the choice. The Police Chief of the University of Florida believes that 90 percent of the university’s student population wears seat belts. That information is good because teenagers and folks in their early 20s are thought to be the most likely to not wear seat belts and be in an accident.
If any driver or passenger still wonders about the choice, wearing a seat belt in Florida is mandatory, and those who choose to not wear a seat belt in Jacksonville should be prepared for a $114 ticket.