Seat belts and child restraints (car seats and booster seats) save lives, and Safer is dedicated to efforts which increase their proper and consistent use. According to the UNM DGR, of the people who were wearing seat belts in crashes in 2006 in New Mexico, only 1.6% died or suffered an incapacitating injury, compared with 28.8% of those who were not belted. Approximately 81% of belted crash victims were reportedly unharmed, compared to only 38% of unbelted occupants.
The NHTSA reports that using child safety seats decreases the risk of death by an estimated 71% for infants and 54% for older children.
The first Operation Buckle Down (OBD) two-week blitz period was held in February 1994 with 52 law enforcement agencies taking part. At that time, the statewide seat belt use rate was 70%: good, but not good enough. A goal of "85 by 95" was set for the following year; an 85% use rate was ambitious, but the goal was achieved and surpassed. The 17-city observational surveys conducted in September 1995 showed a statewide adult seat belt use rate of 86%. In September of 2006, New Mexico's use rate was observed to be 90%.
Unfortunately, New Mexico's child restraint rates have lagged far behind. Limited observational data indicated a combined (infant, toddler, and youth) use rate of 55% in 1996. In an effort to remedy this discrepancy, Safer and the NMDOT TSD embarked on a special child restraint enforcement component within Operation Buckle Down in the spring of 1997. Participating law enforcement agencies agreed to focus their OBD efforts on child restraints during blitz periods. Also, two special "kid blitzes" were held in July 1997 and April 1998. In June of 1998, observational surveys conducted in 13 communities showed a combined child restraint use rate of 74%-a 19-point increase in approximately one year.