Do you use a seat belt when you drive? Nearly 90% of Maryland drivers recently answered, "Yes" in a nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, Maryland ranks 10th nationally for the number of drivers who buckle up behind the wheel. The District of Columbia ranks slightly higher, with 93% of its drivers using seat belts.

These favorable statistics may be partially due to law enforcement measures. Maryland seat belt law requires the driver, front-seat passenger, and any children under age 16 to be buckled.

It's considered a crime if you fail to use a seat belt. In fact, a police officer can pull over a driver simply for not using a seat belt. This is called a primary-enforcement law and is a key reason that Maryland seat belt use is so high.

Other states allow police to cite drivers for not using a seat belt only if they have already pulled over the driver for another offense. Average seat belt use in those states is closer to 80%.

While the fine for not buckling up in Maryland is a mere $25, most of our state's residents choose to not take their chances.

Perhaps that's because they know that seat belt use is not only the law- it's also good sense.

The CDC reports that using a seat belt reduces your chances of dying in a Maryland car crash by a whopping 45%. Seat belt use also cuts your risk of serious injury in half.

Why is that? For starters, a seat belt keeps a person in place in the case of a serious crash. A person using a seat belt is less likely to be ejected from the vehicle or smash their head against the windshield.
Alternatively, a person who is thrown from the car is 25 times more likely to die in the accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that people who don't use seat belts require longer hospital stays and have higher medical bills than those who do wear a seat belt.

If you or a family member has been injured in a Maryland car accident, talk to a Rockville accident attorney to see how you can get compensation for your injuries.

In the meantime, remember: You can't prevent every accident, but you can reduce the devastation by simply taking the time to buckle up.