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Title:Seat Belt Use: Select North Dakota High Schools and Communities
Authors:Andrea Huseth, Mark Lofgren, Laurel Benson, Donald Malchose, and Kimberly Vachal, Ph.D.
Publication Date:Sep 2009
Report #:DP-215
TRID #:01472442
Keywords:age, driver experience, high school students, highway safety, recently qualified drivers, rural areas, teenage drivers, traffic law enforcement
Type:Research Report – Department Publications



Seat belts are a primary motor vehicle safety device. Studies have shown that seat belts not only decrease the likelihood of being injured in a crash, they also save lives (Abdel-Aty, 2003; Yamamoto and Shankar, 2004). Because of this, seat belt use is a primary concern of traffic safety professionals. Of particular concern is seat belt usage of younger or novice drivers. Statistically, teenage drivers have higher rates of crashes per vehicle mile traveled than any other age group (IIHS, 2008) and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for this population (CDC, 2009). However, drivers aged 16 to 24 have the lowest seat belt usage rate of all age groups (USDOT, 2008). More experienced drivers are also experiencing rates of seat belt use that are not at 100%. Attempts were made to test the effectiveness of seat belt educational activities at two rural schools/communities at increasing seat belt use, and to determine if increased enforcement has any effect at increasing seat belt use both at the high school and community levels. Although scheduled educational activities were not completed at the selected schools outlined in this report due to circumstances beyond the researchers' control, the results from the observational surveys were useful in conveying both high school and community seat belt use. Results did indicate that increased enforcement was affective at increasing seat belt use among high school drivers, but not in the community at-large. Comparisons made between the communities/high schools reinforced the findings of prior studies regarding seat belt use and gender, driver location (urban/rural), and vehicle type. Unexpected findings were obtained regarding seat belt use and age, with the results from this study completely contradicting previous studies.

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