May 13, 2024


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Tennessee Highway Safety Office Reports 92 Percent Seat Belt Usage Rate


TENNESSEE – Today, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) announced results from its annual roadside observational survey to determine the state’s average seat belt usage rate. This survey returned a statewide usage rate of 92 percent. The 2023 usage rate represents an increase of approximately 1.5 percent compared to Tennessee’s 2022 survey result of 90.5 percent. The 2023 survey result is Tennessee’s highest annual seat belt usage rate to date.


“Seat belts save lives,” said THSO Director Buddy Lewis. “The purpose of this annual survey is to help the THSO and traffic safety partners identify the demographics and areas of the state most in need of support to increase seat belt usage. Our goal is to reach as many drivers as possible to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities across Tennessee.”

Every year, the THSO works to improve the state’s seat belt usage rate by increasing occupant protection education through programs like Ollie Otter, Reduce TN Crashes, and other THSO grant-funded initiatives. The THSO also promotes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click It or Ticket” seat-belt enforcement campaign to remind citizens to buckle up.

Highlights from Tennessee’s 2023 seat belt survey are as follows.

  • Research data was collected at 190 pre-identified roadway locations across Tennessee.
  • Researchers observed almost 27,000 vehicle occupants.
  • Vehicles observed included passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs.
  • The highest usage rate was observed among occupants in sport utility vehicles (96.1 percent).
  • The lowest usage rate was observed among occupants in pickup trucks (82.4 percent).
  • Female occupants were observed to have a higher usage rate (97.6 percent) than males (88.4 percent).
  • Front-seat passengers were observed to have a higher usage rate (93 percent) than drivers (91.8 percent).
  • County-level usage rates exceeded 90 percent in 11 of 16 counties included in the survey’s sample.
  • Davidson and Knox Counties tied for the highest usage rate (95.1 percent) among sampled counties.


This data was collected through an annual roadside observational survey conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Transportation Research during the spring of 2023 in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Uniform Criteria for State Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use.


The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.




The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) is a division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security advocating for traffic safety. The THSO works in tandem with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement statewide programs addressing occupant protection, impaired driving, speed enforcement, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and crash data collection and analysis. Programs administered by the THSO are 100 percent federally funded. The THSO’s mission is to effectively develop, implement, and evaluate these programs. To learn more, please visit