OHS director reminds drivers to buckle up, stay focused on the road

Delaware sees highest seatbelt usage rate ever
January 26, 2024

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety is reminding drivers and passengers to wear their seatbelts every trip, every time, and to avoid distractions behind the wheel.

We at the OHS are working alongside state and local law enforcement with the Occupant Protection and Distracted Driving high-visibility enforcement effort, which runs through Monday, Feb. 12.

Even with the decrease in fatalities from 2023 compared to 2022, there are still improvements to be made to increase highway safety and to keep working toward achieving the goal of zero deaths on Delaware roadways. For more information and FAQs on the enforcement campaign, statistics and education, visit

In 2023, Delaware saw its highest seatbelt usage rate ever at 93.9 percent. Seatbelt usage rates remained steady at around 92 percent in the past five-year average. Despite this increase in usage, there were still 42 people killed and 279 injured last year who were not buckled up during a crash. OHS continues to encourage drivers and passengers to make buckling up a habit and a priority when getting into a motor vehicle.

Although seatbelt usage is at an all-time high, there are still too many fatalities on Delaware roads due to lack of restraint during a crash. By simply buckling up, lives can be saved. Always ensure that you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts, eliminate any distractions, and stay alert while driving.

Distracted driving remains one of the primary causes of crashes in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,657 people died in distraction-affected crashes over the 10-year period from 2012 to 2021. It can take approximately 4.6 seconds to read a text message, and at 55 mph, that is the equivalent of traveling the length of an entire football field, blind.

In addition to increased patrols, OHS wants to remind everyone of the updated car seat law that will go into effect June 30. Occupant protection is important for drivers and passengers of all ages and sizes. To read about the law and find contact information to have your car seat(s) checked by a certified car seat technician at no charge, go to Those who would like to receive updated brochures and educational materials on the car seat law in Delaware may contact our office by emailing
We also want to educate drivers and passengers on the dangers of being unbuckled and offer tips to avoid distracted driving.
Not wearing a seat belt can result in serious consequences. For instance, not buckling up can result in being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash, which is almost always deadly. Airbags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not properly buckled up. Improperly wearing a seat belt, such as putting the strap below your arm, puts you and your passengers at increased risk in a crash.
In order to buckle up safely, be sure to follow proper guidelines. The lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body. Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm. Set a good example – children whose caregivers buckle up are much more likely to buckle up themselves.

During these cold winter days, remember to take heavy coats off before buckling up. This rule goes for both children and adults. The bulkiness of the coat creates slack between your body and the seatbelt or harness, which increases your chance of injury during a crash.
Try to avoid distractions while driving. Use the “do not disturb” setting on your cellphone. Put your phone away in the trunk, glove box or backseat of your vehicle so you are not tempted to look at it. If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.

The Office of Highway Safety is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues, such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, aging, and teen driving issues. Follow OHS on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

Sharon Bryson, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, is the director of the Office of Highway Safety, part of the the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
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