Seatbelt Usage in Mississippi
Back in 2012, Mississippi had a seatbelt usage rate of 83 percent, just slightly below the national average of 86 percent. However, the traffic fatality rate in 2015 was more than double at 22.6 as compared to 10.9 for the US average.
Mississippi has had a state seatbelt law since July 1994, but it did not become a primary enforcement state until May 2006. Anyone seven years old and up seated in either the front or rear is subject to the law. A first-time offense may result in a fine of $25 or more.
In addition, the state has a child safety seat law that anyone three years old and younger must be kept in a child restraint seat. Those four years old through six years old must be kept in a booster seat. Anyone who fails to follow this law is also subject to a minimum fine of $25.
Mississippi has seen improvements in seatbelt use since 2007. In that year, the rate for use was 71.8 percent. It increased rather dramatically in 2009 at 76.0 percent, a jump of over four percent. The rate of use peaked in 2012 with 83.2 percent use before dropping back down in the 70+ percent range. However, another dramatic increase was noted between 2013 and 2014 when the rate went up by 3.9 percent.
The state is part of the South region, which is in second place for seatbelt use, behind the West at 95.0 percent. The South region as a whole had a rate of 89.2 percent, which was higher than for the state alone. If Mississippi continues to increase its seatbelt use, the traffic fatality rate may come down as well. Studies show that wearing a seatbelt prevents serious injuries and death because it prevents the person from being ejected.