TULSA, OK -- The number of Oklahomans who are buckling up are going up, except in Tulsa County. That's the conclusion of the 2010 Seat Belt and Child Restraint Usage Observation Study from the University of Oklahoma.
The final statistics, released on August 11th, show statewide seat belt usage in combined types of motor vehicles increased 1.7 percent since last year, from 84.2 to 85.9. Usage in pickup trucks increased the same – 1.7 percent, from 76.7 to 78.4.
However, in Tulsa County, the study shows a 2.6 percent decrease in combined usage and a 4.7 percent decrease in seat belt use in pickup trucks.
Alice Collinsworth, communications manager for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office said the declining numbers in Tulsa County are a concern, but not a major problem.
"Of course we don't like to see the numbers go down anywhere, but Tulsa County has historically had some of the highest numbers in the state, so even with this year's decline, their usage rate remains high," she said. "Yes, there's room for improvement all across the state, but the state is showing a positive trend. At this time next year, we hope to see even better numbers."
When calculating seat belt usage rates, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration uses a measure called the "conversion rate" to calculate the percentage of non-users who were converted to users. That means the 1.7 percentage point increase from 2009 to 2010 is equivalent to an estimated 10.8 percent decrease in non-users.