Safety Belt and Motorcycle Helmet Use in Virginia: The 2002 Update

Report No: 03-TAR1

Published in 2002

About the report:

Safety belt use data were first collected in Virginia in 1974. Early data (1974-77 and 1983-86) were collected from only the four metropolitan areas (Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Richmond, and Roanoke) of the state. Between 1987 and 1992, data were also collected in nine communities with a population under 15,000. In 1991 and 1992, data were collected in four communities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000. It was only with the initiation of this project in 1992 that the state had a true statewide survey. This report describes the methodology used for site selection and data collection and adds the results of the 2002 survey to those of the previous years. It should be noted that the dates of the 2002 survey were different than those of previous surveys. From 1992 to 2001, surveys began the last Thursday in May and generally ended the second week in July, depending on the number of sites "rained out" and rescheduled. This year, at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the survey was begun the fourth week of April so that the results would be available before the end of June. Thus, differences between use rates in 2002 and other years may be attributable to seasonal differences in travel patterns and restraint/helmet use, rather than solely to changes in driver and occupant behavior. The results show that Virginia's 2002 safety belt use rate was 70.4% and its motorcycle helmet use rate was 100%. In each of the 10 years of the survey, virtually all of the motorcycle drivers and passengers were using a helmet. For the passenger car drivers and right-front passengers in the 10 years of the study, use rates varied from a low of 67.1% in 1997 to a high of 73.6% in 1998. The 2002 use rate of 70.4% is a decrease from the 72.3% use rate in 2001.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Cheryl Lynn

Last updated: December 1, 2023

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