Seat belt use has come a long way in the United States, with nearly nine-in-ten of us buckling up every time we get behind the wheel. But that still leaves an estimated 25 million people who don't use their seat belts on a regular basis.

In South Dakota, we're dead last nationally when it comes to buckling up, with only an estimated 69 percent of drivers using seat belts. South Dakota is the only state with a less than 70 percent usage rate.

In a recent Consumer Reports article, the Mount Rushmore State was one of nine states to receive a DANGER rating in the 2016 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws issued by

According to the report, a DANGER rating signifies a state which:

...falls dangerously behind in adoption of
Advocates’ recommended optimal laws.

South Dakota is one of 16 states with no seat belt law or only a secondary enforcement law and one of 31 states with no mandatory helmet law for motorcycle riders

The report identified several key laws South Dakota needs to pass to bring up its rating:

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front & Rear)
  • Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
  • Booster Seat Law Through Age 7
  • Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • 6-Month Holding Period Provision (Without Driver Ed Exemption)
  • 30-50 Hours Supervised Driving Provision
  • Passenger Restriction Provision
  • Cell Phone Restriction Provision
  • Age 18 for Unrestricted License
  • Ignition Interlock Law for All Offenders
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Driver Text Messaging Restriction

According to the latest statistics (2014), South Dakota had 1,428 roadway and highway fatalities over a ten-year period. The estimated annual cost of South Dakota motor vehicle crashes is $720 million.

The report says stricter seat belt laws across the country saved 12,500 lives and prevented 308,000 series injuries in just 2010 alone, and saved $50 billion in medial care and lost productivity.

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