Seat belt use has become the norm in most states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 85 percent of drivers nationwide saying they use a seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle.

Rates of seat belt use do vary significantly by state, however, the CDC found. Oregon drivers have the highest reported rate, at 94 percent, while North Dakota's 59 percent is the lowest, according to a report by the agency.

"A simple step that most drivers  and passengers in the United States already take – buckling their seat belts – cuts in half the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. "Yet about one in seven adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip."

Every 14 seconds, an adult in the U.S. is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, according to the CDC.

The study found that in the states with primary enforcement laws – which allow police to pull over cars and issue tickets solely because motorists are unbelted – the overall rate of seat belt use is 88 percent. States with secondary enforcement laws – which allow police to issue seat belt tickets only after drivers  have been pulled over for another reason – had a reported rate of 79 percent.

For the study, CDC researchers analyzed two national sources: 2009 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program data on nonfatal injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data on self-reported risk behaviors.

 

You can follow LiveScience writer Wynne Parry on Twitter @Wynne_Parry.