The objective of this study was to establish 1997 safety belt and child safety seat usage rates in Kentucky. The 1997 survey documents the continuing results from enacting a statewide mandatory safety belt law in 1994. Data were collected at 100 sites and combined based on vehicle miles traveled for a given type of highway, rural or urban location, and county population category. Also included in the report is an analysis of accident records evaluating the effectiveness of safety belts.

The data show that the usage rate has stabilized at a level slightly below the high value which occurred in 1994 immediately after enactment of the statewide usage law. The driver usage rate in 1997 was 54 percent, compared to 55 percent in 1996, 54 percent in 1995 and 58 percent in 1994. The current usage is substantially above the 1993 level prior to enactment of the statewide law of 42 percent.

The statewide usage rate for children under the age of four was determined to be 82 percent. This is the highest rate found since the start of the surveys and compares to the previous high of79 percent in 1996.

Benefits in the reduction of injuries for occupants involved in police-reported accidents who were wearing a safety belt or in a safety seat were shown through the analysis of accident records. For example, there was a 68 percent reduction in the probability of a driver sustaining a fatal or incapacitating injury in a traffic accident when a safety belt was worn compared to not wearing a safety belt.

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The contents of this report reflect the views of the author who is responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the University of Kentucky or the Kentucky State Police. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. The inclusion of manufacturer names or trade names are for identification purposes and are not considered as endorsements.