From information released Dec. 28 by the American Coalition for Traffic Safety:

Nearly 100 million Americans are wearing automobile safety belts today, triple the number who buckled up three years ago. . . .

Three years ago this month the first state safety-belt law in the United States became effective. Today, belt-use laws which have been passed in 31 states and the District of Columbia cover more than 198 million persons.

"Safety-belt-use laws have played a key role in increasing the national safety-belt-use rate," said James D. Johnston, president of the American Coalition for Traffic Safety. . . . "Just three years ago, only 14 percent of the motorists in the United States wore their safety belts. Today, 42 percent are wearing their belts, a consistent increase from previous years."

According to {Mr.} Johnston, belt-use averages 52 percent in states with laws and only 27 percent in states which have not yet passed them. . . .

According to a study released by{B. J.} Campbell, director of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, safety-belt-use laws have saved 1,300 lives and have been responsible for the mitigation of at least 100,000 serious injuries, and, at current belt-use levels, the study estimates similar reductions could be seen on an annual basis. . . .

"Our national safety-belt-use rate is improving, but we are far from the use that we would like," {Mr.} Johnston said. "Even so, more than 100,000 people owe their good health to safety-belt-use laws. These figures show that when people see the benefits in something, they will change their behavior."