Child Safety Seat and Safety Belt Use Among Urban Travelers: Results of the 1984 Survey

Report No: 85-R35

Published in 1985

About the report:

During nine days in June 1983 and nine in June 1984, four major metropolitan areas of Virginia were surveyed to determine whether safety restraints were being used by urban travelers. Observers stationed at selected signalized intersections displayed to stopped motorists a clipboard bearing the question, Are you wearing seat belts? The observers then approached the vehicles to visually verify any response given, and recorded whether safety belts or child safety seats were being used. They also recorded the license numbers of the vehicles and the sex and approximate age of each occupant. The passage of the Child Safety Seat Law in 1982 resulted in a dramatic increase in infant safety restraint use in 1983 over that in the 1977 baseline period. One of the objectives of the 1984 survey was to determine whether there was a change in the use of safety restraints by infants from that observed in June 1983. The rates of use found in June 1984 were nearly the same as those observed in June 1983. In 1984, 78.6% of the infant RFP's and 66.7% of the infant RP's were restrained by safety devices (child seats, safety belts, or both). The 1983 figures were 76.0% for RFP's and 66.8% for RP's (Table 6). The 1984 data also show that when there was an infant in the car, and the infant was in a child safety seat, 30.8% of the drivers, 42.3% of the RFP's, and 81.1% of the RP's were also using restraints; when the infant was not in a child safety seat, only 11.6% of the drivers, 16.0% of the RFP's, and 15.8% of the RP's were using belts. In both cases of use and nonuse by infants, use rates by other passengers were higher in 1984 than in 1983 (Table 3). Finally, the study also identified an association between the driver's use of safety belts and the use by RFP's (Table 2). When 1983 and 1984 survey data were compared, there was a higher rate of restraint use by drivers in 1984. Lap belts were used by 2.8% of all drivers surveyed and lap/shoulder belts were used by 17.7% in 1984; these figures were 2.0% and 14.4% in 1983 (Table i). There was no practical or statistical difference in safety restraint use by RFP's or RP's. As in previous surveys in Virginia, 8 greater percentage of female drivers and RFP's used safety restraints than did males (Table 4). The Child Safety Seat Law has been responsible for a significant increase in restraint usage by infants, and there appears to have been a "spillover effect" that has influenced increases in safety restraint usage by other categories of vehicle occupants over that found prior to the passage of this statute.

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.


Other Authors

Charles B. Stoke

Last updated: January 16, 2024

Alert Icon

Please note that this file is not ADA compliant. Choose one of below options: