The objective of this study was to establish 2004 safety belt and child safety seat usage rates in Kentucky. The 2004 survey continues to document the results after enactment of a statewide mandatory safety belt law in 1994 and safety belt enforcement campaign. Data were collected at 200 randomly selected sites spread across Kentucky. Data from the individual sites were combined into a statewide percentage considering roadway functional classification, geographic region, and vehicle miles traveled.

The data show that the usage rate in 2004 (66.0 percent) was slightly higher than that in 2003 (65.5 percent). This compared to 62.0 percent in 2002, 61.9 percent in 2001, 60 percent in 2000, 59 percent in 1999, 54 percent in 1998, 1997 and 1995, 55 percent in 1996, 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 2004 statewide usage rate for children under the age of four was determined to be 96.0 percent. This continues the high rate found for this age category and compares to the previous high of 94.8 percent in 2003.

The statewide law, except for children, involves secondary enforcement. The very high usage rate for children can be related to primary enforcement and education. To obtain the maximum possible increase in usage for all vehicle occupants, the current law should be modified to allow primary, rather than secondary, enforcement for all vehicle occupants. The potential increase which can result from an emphasis on enforcement was shown by the results obtained during the enforcement period of this year’s “Buckle Up Kentucky: It’s the Law & It’s Enforced” campaign. As a minimum, primary enforcement should apply to drivers while they are in the permit and intermediate phase of the graduated license program.

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The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are 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 to be considered as endorsements.