West Coasties mostly wear belts; northerners not so much

Washington state is tops in the United States at 97.5 percent seat belt usage. That’s pretty amazing. What’s more incredible is that 26.8 percent of people in Massachusetts still don’t wear their belts.
What are they thinking? Just clicking those clasps together reduces a person’s risk of dying in a car crash by 61 percent, according to Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. Doesn’t seem like that much hassle considering the potential benefit.
Part of the Bay State’s problem might be that not wearing a seat belt isn’t a primary offense, meaning the cops can’t nail you for it unless they pull you over for something else first. There are still 19 states where it’s a secondary offense. That’s not much of an excuse, though, because one of them is Nevada, and its residents strap up 94.1 percent of the time.
Washington is first at 97.5 percent, and has been above 95 percent for seven straight years. The rest of the best are Oregon (96.6%), California (96.6%), Hawaii (96%) and District of Columbia (95.2%). The rest of the worst, besides Massachusetts (73.2%), are South Dakota (73.4%), New Hampshire (75.0%), North Dakota (76.7%) and Montana (76.9%).
You can see some geographic connections here. The Dakotas and Montana have the wide open spaces and not so much traffic. New Hampshire’s motto is “Live Free or Die.” Nobody’s gonna tell them to buckle up. Massachusetts doesn’t make sense.
And the top four states are along or in the Pacific. Must be something in the water.