Safety Restraint Use in Virginia: Use Rate Trends from 1983 through 1995

Report No: 96-R21

Published in 1996

About the report:

The purpose of this report was to take a retrospective glance at Virginia's experience in getting her citizens to use the automobile safety restraint systems available to them. In Virginia, data on safety belt and child safety seat use were collected annually from 1983 until 1994. Data on child safety seat use were not collected in 1995, although safety belt use figures were again gathered. The data revealed that, for most years, the change in safety belt use rates was small. The use of child safety seats increased substantially after the effective date (January 1, 1983) of the statute requiring it. Safety belt use by front seat occupants also increased substantially following the effective date of the mandatory use law (January 1, 1988), which applied only to front seat occupants. However, use by rear seat occupants was lower in 1989 and 1990 than in 1987. Infants had higher rates of safety restraint use than did older passengers, with the infant use rate peaking in 1991. Further, belt use was higher in metropolitan areas. Both safety restraint use statutes were effective in increasing the use rates of the target populations: infants and front seat occupants. Virginia legislators should enhance the lifesaving potential of passenger restraint systems by mandating the use of safety belts by rear seat passengers.

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: December 17, 2023

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