Safety Belt and Motorcycle Helmet Use in Virginia: The 1997 Update

Report No: 98-TAR1

Published in 1997

About the report:

This series of surveys to determine the safety belt and motorcycle helmet use rates in Virginia was initiated to qualify the Commonwealth for incentive funds in accordance with the requirements of Section 153 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. To receive the funds, states had to meet specified standards with regard to the existence of pertinent statutes as well as safety belt and motorcycle helmet use rates. The National Highway TrafficSafety Administration specified the survey criteria to be used in determining a state's use rate. Over the 3 years the program was in operation (1991-93), Virginia qualified for approximately $1.6 million in funds. Even though the funding program ended, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requested that data collection continue and that the same methods, procedures, and sites be used as were used for the Section 153 program. This report describes the methodology used for site selection and data collection and adds the results of the 1997survey to those for the previous years (1992-96). The results show that Virginia's 1997 safety belt use rate was 67.1% and its motorcycle helmet use rate was 98.7%. The helmet use rate had been 100% in all 5 previous years of the study. For the first 5 years the survey was conducted (1992-96), the safety belt use rates were 71.6%,73.2%,71.8%,70.2%, and 69.6%, respectively. The results for 1997 confirm a downward trend in the use of life-saving and injury-prevention devices (helmets and belts) required by law in Virginia. The drop in safety belt use, from 69.6% in 1996 to 67.1% in 1997, was statistically significant (p < .05). Since 1993, when safety belt use peaked at 73.2%, the rate has declined more than 6 percentage points (8.3%).

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 15, 2023

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