The objective of this report was to document the results of the “Buckle Up Kentucky: It’s the Law & It’s Enforced” campaign in Kentucky. The campaign involved a combination of earned media, paid media, and enforcement. The earned media started about three weeks prior to Memorial Day 2003 and continued through the enforcement period. The paid media started about two weeks prior to Memorial Day. The enforcement period was a two-week period including the week before and the week of Memorial Day.

The evaluation of the campaign included documenting the activities associated with the program (publicity and enforcement) and evaluating the results. The evaluation involved conducting observations of seat belt usage at a sample of locations across the state, motorist surveys obtained at driver licensing locations, telephone surveys of drivers, and comparing the number of fatal and injury crashes during the enforcement period with previous years.

Seat belt usage at a mini-sample set of 21 locations across the state (compared to 200 sites for a full statewide survey) found that usage increased from a baseline level of 61.6 percent to a high of 72.5 percent during the enforcement phase of the campaign. No substantial difference in usage rates could be associated with only the media portion of the campaign with usage rates of 61.8 and 62.3 percent during the earned and paid media, respectively.

Results of the surveys of drivers found that the publicity was effective in making drivers aware of the increase in enforcement and checkpoints associated with the campaign. The post-campaign telephone survey showed a significant increase in drivers who stated they had recently increased their use of seat belts which could be related the increase in the perceived likelihood of receiving a ticket if a seat belt was not worn. The telephone survey showed that, after the campaign, about 78 percent of the drivers had heard of the “Buckle Up Kentucky: It’s the Law & It’s Enforced” campaign.

The extent of the publicity was documented. The effectiveness of the television and radio spots was confirmed with the driver surveys which showed that their knowledge about the campaign was most often from television or radio.

Enforcement was conducted by both state and local police through saturated enforcement and checkpoints. A total of 8,325 seat belt citations and 599 child restraint citations were given during the two-week enforcement period.

The numbers of injury crashes and injuries during the two-week enforcement period of the campaign were lower than in any of the previous five years. The number of injuries during this period was 289 less than the average of the previous five years which results in an economic savings of about $11.5 million.

A review of the data results in the opinion that the current law in Kentucky must be changed from secondary to primary enforcement to obtain a long-term high seat belt use percentage. There must also be an awareness by the public that the law is being enforced.

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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 considered as endorsements.