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Thanks to partners like the Fort Meade community, the state of Maryland now boasts the highest seat belt use rate on the East Coast - and one of the highest in the country. Ninety-one percent of Maryland motorists now use their seat belts as they travel, a full two percent increase over last year's seat belt usage rate. This means that more than 100,000 additional Marylanders are buckling up - nearly as many people as can be seated in both the Baltimore Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Representatives from the Fort Meade Installation Safety Office were recognized by the Maryland State Highway Administration's Highway Safety Office, the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Maryland Committee For Safety Belt Use, Inc., for exemplary seat belt use by The Fort Meade community during 2005. The awards ceremony at the BWI Airport Marriott featured special recognition of businesses, schools, religious institutions and agencies after 90 percent or more of their population was observed wearing seat belts on at least two occasions.

To qualify for the award, participants conducted two observational seat belt surveys at their Access Control Points during regular business hours. These surveys were spaced at least 30 days apart to indicate sustained usage rates, and were conducted according to guidelines provided by the Maryland Highway Safety Office at SHA. The Maryland Pacesetters program has assisted the State in achieving these record-setting seat belt use rates.

Fort Meade was recognized with a certificate for demonstrating a 90 perecent usage rate. "We recognize the importance of our Fort Meade community's safety, and proper use of seat belts and child safety seats is one simple step that we all can take to maintain that safety," said Installation Safety Manager Tina Garnes. "The Pacesetter Award is one way in which we can recognize our entire community for taking that vital step to help protect themselves in a crash."

"We know that using a safety belt is the best way to survive a motor vehicle crash - and thanks to the dedicated efforts of traffic safety agencies and advocates, more Maryland motorists are buckling up," commented State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. "We commend and thank the members of this traffic safety effort, including the law enforcement community, EMS and health care community and the private advocacy of organizations such as the Maryland Committee for Safety Belt Use."

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