Seat Belt and Shoulder Strap Use Among Urban Travelers: Results of the Summer 1977 Survey: A Report

Report No: 79-R5

Published in 1978

About the report:

During nine days in June 1977, four major metropolitan areas of the state of Virginia were surveyed to determine seat belt use by summer urban travelers. Observer-data collectors were stationed at selected signalized intersections. Motorists in the lane adjacent to the curb were shown a clipboard bearing the question, Are you wearing seat belts? The observer then approached the vehicle and visually verified the response given, and recorded whether seat belts and/or shoulder straps were being used. He also recorded the license number of the vehicle and the sex and approximate age of each occupant. An association between the driver's use of belts and the right front passenger's use was noted during the survey. In vehicles in which the driver was not using a seat belt, 96.7% of the right front passengers (RFP's) were not using a seat belt. When the driver was using only a lap belt, 42.7% of the RFP's were using either the lap belt or the lap and shoulder belts. When the driver was using both lap and shoulder belts, 54.6% of the RFP's were using either the lap belt or the lap and shoulder belts. The last two figures for RFP use do not include the use of child seats, which added 1.6% and 1.3% to the totals. It was found that only 16.3% of the drivers, 9.8% of the RFP's, and 3.4% of the remaining passengers used a seat belt and/or shoulder strap. Overall, 10.3% of the infant occupants were restrained by approved child seats. The results indicate that in comparison to males, more of the female drivers and RFP's use belts. Belt use by drivers was found to be higher in the 1972/1973 vehicle group and by RFP's of 1975 model cars than in the other age categories of vehicles. A greater percentage of Northern Virginia drivers and RFP's used belts than those in the other survey areas, and use was lowest for all occupant categories in Eastern 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.


  • Charles B. Stoke

Last updated: January 26, 2024

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