Seat Belts: Their Use Among Drivers Killed in Fatal Crashes in Virginia

Report No: 73-R38

Published in 1974

About the report:

SR300 Accident Report forms and corresponding Medical Examiner's reports were examined for fatal crashes which occurred during fiscal year 1973. The status of seat belt usage was noted for drivers whose deaths were directly related to the accidents and in whose cars seat belts were installed. In addition, data on 32 other variables available in these reports were collected for all of the fatally injured seat belt users and for a 20% sample of the nonusers. In the 317 cases examined, 26 drivers (8.2%) were found to have been wearing seat belts at the time of the accident while, 291 (91.8%) were not. One would expect that seat belt users would be represented among fatalities in the same proportions as they are represented among the general driving population. To determine if this were true, the seat belt usage rate among fatally injured drivers (8. 2%) was compared to the usage, rate for drivers in Virginia (24.04%) and to two estimates of usage, among the general driving population in other states. These differences were found to be statistically significant (p < .001), meaning that only one time in 1000 would differences this great be due to chance factors alone. Thus, it was concluded that belt users were underrepresented among Virginia fatalities. Since no other differences existed between the two groups when demographic and accident-related variables were examined, it was also concluded that this underrepresentation was due to the use of seat belts and that seat belts have saved lives in Virginia.

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.


  • Clinton H. Simpson, Cheryl W. Lynn

Last updated: February 7, 2024

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