Seat belt use by teenagers is California is at a record high, although not in Mendocino County, the state Office of Traffic Safety reports.

A survey by California State University Fresno found 96.1 percent of teens were buckling up this year in the state, up from 94 percent in 2010. Nationally, teen seat belt use is in the low 80 percent range. The overall figure statewide, regardless of age, is 96.6 percent.

The latest teen figure is based on a survey last spring of traffic near 100 high schools in 29 counties, including Mendocino, which ranked 23rd.

The school surveyed in Mendocino County was Fort Bragg High. Last spring’s survey there found 94.1 percent of teens were using seat belts, up from 92.4 percent in 2010 but down from a high of 96.4 percent in 2009. In 2005, it was 86 percent.

For the state, the survey found:

–Slightly more teen girls wear seat belts than boys, 97.8 percent vs. 96.1 percent.

–Those riding in pickups are least likely to buckle up at 93.7 percent.

–Contra Costa and Santa Cruz counties had 100 percent use in the survey, although state officials acknowledged day-to-day use probably is lower.

–Monterey County had the lowest rate at 87.2 percent.

Officials attributed California’s higher-than-national rate to tough enforcement of seat belt laws by police and such awareness campaigns as Click It or Ticket and Every 15 Minutes.


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