Indianapolis -- Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Executive Director, T. Neil Moore announced that Indiana's overall traffic-related fatalities fell to a record low of 814 in 2008. This number is down by 84 fatalities from 2007. This is the fifth consecutive year the state has recorded a reduction of traffic-related fatalities, leading to the lowest number of traffic-related fatalities since 1944.
"While these numbers are a strong indicator of the value that Hoosiers are placing on traffic safety, hundreds still lost their lives on Indiana's roadways last year," said Moore. "Our strides may be significant, but there remains much work to be done to save even more lives."
In 2007, Governor Mitch Daniels strengthened Indiana's seat belt law by signing legislation that requires the occupants of every motor vehicle, including pickup trucks, to buckle up regardless of seating position.
According to data derived from ICJI, 56 percent of the individuals killed in car crashes in 2007, where restraint usage was known, were unrestrained. Yet, Indiana's overall observed seat belt usage rate climbed to a record high of 91.2 percent in 2008, surpassing the 2007 record of 88.4 percent. This nearly seven-point increase in seat belt usage over the past two years translates into an estimated 419,553 additional Indiana motorists buckling up.
"Although Hoosiers are buckling up in record numbers, we must continue to strive for 100 percent compliance, in order to continue these record reductions in traffic fatalities," Moore added. "Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to survive a crash, it increases your chances of survival by 60 percent if you are properly belted and involved in a crash."
Further data obtained from ICJI indicates that 28 percent of Indiana fatalities were alcohol-related in 2007 - resulting in approximately one alcohol-related crash every 53 minutes. Research also shows that speed-related collisions accounted for 20.8 percent of all fatalities in 2007.
"Indiana has made great progress in recent years by supporting tougher seat belt laws, enforcing speed limits and maintaining a zero tolerance approach towards impaired driving. Under Governor Daniels leadership, ICJI and the Governor's Council on Impaired and Dangerous Driving is committed to working with law enforcement and Hoosiers to continue to make Indiana's roadways safer," said ICJI Traffic Safety Division Director, Ryan Klitzsch.