Child Safety Seat and Safety Belt Use Among Urban Travelers: Results of the 1983-1986 Surveys

Report No: 87-R14

Published in 1986

About the report:

The four major metropolitan areas of Virginia were surveyed to determine the extent to which safety restraints were being used by urban travelers. Observers were stationed at selected signalized intersections and displayed to stopped motorists a clipboard bearing the question "Are you wearing safety belts?" The observers then approached the vehicles to visually verify any response given and to record whether safety belts or child safety seats were being used. They also recorded the sex and approximate age of each occupant and whether the child safety seats were being correctly or incorrectly used. These observations occurred in two series: 1) 1974-1977 and 2) 1983-1986. Only the latter data are reported here. Four characteristics of the survey sample were analyzed to determine whether they biased the observed belt use results. The number of vehicles observed during each of the three daily periods and in the four areas of the state and the sex of the observed occupants occurred in similar proportions in each of the four surveys and should not have caused year-to-year differences in belt usage. There were, however, variations in the age distributions of the vehicle occupants in the four survey samples, and these differences (more older and fewer middle adults) should have resulted in slightly lower use rates in 1986, all other influences being the same. Observed belt usages were analyzed according to a number of vehicle, occupant, and geographic characteristics. Each of these is discussed in a separate section of the report. Belt use rates were higher in 1986 than during the previous four years, with 35.5% of the drivers and 33.1% of all passengers using some form of safety restraint. The passage of the Child Safety Seat law in 1982 resulted in a significant increase in usage by passengers less than four years of age. During all four years, nearly three-fourths of the infants traveling as right front passengers and two-thirds of the infants classified as remaining passengers were observed to be in safety restraints.

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: December 30, 2023

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