INTRODUCTION Many changes are taking place on roads and road design to make them safer for travel, but the seat belt continues to be the single most important protective device in automobiles. Since 1968, seat belts have been proven to help save lives in major accidents, people are still reluctant to wear them. Prior to mandatory use legislation, educational efforts were relatively ineffective in increasing belt use. In 1980, only 11% of United States passenger vehicle occupants wore seat belts. Surveys conducted during 1981- 1983 found that 76% of United States adults did not wear their seat belts. By 1995, belt use increased to 68% nationally and exceeds 85% in some U. S. states (Rivara, et al. 1999). The introduction of the automatic seat belt has been a factor that contributed to the increase of seat belt use. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 requires vehicles sold after 1991 in the United States, must have passive occupant restraint systems. Recently, however, there has been concern that these seat belt designs might actually decrease the tendency for drivers and from seat occupants to use the manual lap belt (Schmidt, et al. 1998). In a study done by Lehto and James (1997), on whether or not people wore their lap belt, they found that 69.6% of the respondents actually wore their lap belt (when asked if they wore their lap belt). It was 3% higher than they earlier observed. To also increase the use of seat belts, the formulation and passages of Primary and Secondary seat belt laws in many states have occurred. Mandatory seat belt use legislation has become an important component of efforts in most industrialized countries to reduce injuries and fatalities from motor vehicle crashes. Primary enforcement laws allow police to stop and ticket an occupant solely because they are unrestrained. Secondary enforcement laws allow a citation for the lack of restraint use only if the motorist has been stopped for some other reason. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow primary enforcement and 37 states only allow for secondary enforcement (Rivara, et al. 1999). The results of the study done by Rivara, et al (1999), comparing the change in seat belt usage when states switched from secondary to primary showed that seat belt use increased. The purpose of this study is to see how many people use their seat belt and what percentage of the time they use them, when asked on a questionnaire. Also, other questions about safety will also be asked and correlated to their seat belt use.
Twenty- six people were asked to complete a survey on their seat belt use. The subjects’ ages ranged from 19-47. There were 17 females and 9 males. All of the subjects were from northwest Missouri.
An eleven question paper and pencil survey was used (see appendix A). The survey consisted of questions about how often they wore their seat belt, which situations would make them more likely to wear their seat belt, how often they drove over the speed limit, use turn signals, and lock their doors.
Subjects were asked if they would like to complete a seat belt survey, which they had a choice to complete or not.
RESULTS Four different statistical tests were done. A correlation was done between seat belt wearing and locking doors, and one was also done between seat belt use and speeding. Frequency tables were calculated on what situation would make the subject more likely to wear their seat belt. A t-test was done to see if the current seat belt use. A Pearson correlation was calculated was examining the relationship between how often subjects wore their seat belt and how often subject locked their vehicle doors. A weak correlation that was not significant was found (r (24) = .335, p>. 05). Seat belt use is not related to how often someone locks their doors. Another Pearson correlation was calculated examining the relationship between how often subjects wore their seat belt and how often they speed. A weak correlation that was not significant was found (r (24) = -1.20, p > .05). Seat belt use is not related to how often someone speeds. A frequency table was created for the number of “yes” answers on the question that asked: “Which of the following situations would make you more likely to wear your seat belt”. -73% of the 26 said they were more likely to wear their seat belt after an accident. -65% of the 26 said they were more likely to wear their seat belt when police were patrolling the area. -76% of the 26 said they were more likely to wear their seat belt when they were riding with someone who had been drinking. -69% of the 26 said they were more likely to wear their seat belt when they were riding with someone else who was their seat belt. An independent t-test was done comparing the means of the answers to the question: “Do the current seat belt laws in the state of Missouri effect you wearing your seat belt?”, and the percent they put down as them wearing their seat belt. A significant difference between the means of the two groups (t (24) = 3.153, p < .05) was found. The mean of the “yes” answers were significantly higher (m = 90.19, sd = 11.63) than the mean of the “no” answers (m = 43.75, sd = 45.33).
DISCUSSION The results found did not go with the original hypothesis of there would be a correlation between wearing your seat belt and speeding or locking your doors. Although I did find a significant difference in the if the Missouri seat belt laws effected if a person wore their seat belt or not. According to this study, the laws do not effect a person wearing their seat belt or not. The group of people who answered “yes”, the laws does effect their seat belt use, had a mean of 90% seat belt use compared to only 43% of those who answered “no”. Some limitations of this research were the size of the sample. Perhaps if a larger sample size were used, it would have yielded larger results. Also, some of the questions could have been clearer. Some of the subjects had questions about some of the items and they need further explaining. Directions for further research may include using a larger sample size. Also, making the survey clearer, by rewording some of the questions. Having direct observation along with the survey would be another research idea. I don’t believe that the results of this study can be generalized to the population. The sample size was too small.
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APPENDIX A Seat Belt SurveyAge____ Sex____ Occupation__________________________1) How often do you wear your seat belt? _____%2) Does your vehicle have motorized seat belts? Y NIf you answered yes to question 2, how often do you wear the lap belt? _____%3) Does your vehicle chime, beep, or make other signals if seat belt is not fastened? Y N 4) Are you aware of the warning labels on seat belts? Y N5) Does your vehicle have one or more airbags? Y N6) Which of the following situations would make you more likely to wear your seat belt? (you may check all that apply) ______After an accident ______When police are patrolling the area ______When someone else in the vehicle is wearing their seat belt ______When riding with someone who had been drinking ______Other _________________________________________________________ 7) Are you aware of the current seat belt laws in the state of Missouri? Y N8) Do the laws effect you wearing your seat belt? Y N9) How often do you drive over the speed limit? ______%10) How often do you use turn signals? ______%11) How often do you lock your vehicle doors? ______%