The objective of this study was to establish 2003 safety belt and child safety seat usage rates in Kentucky. The 2003 su rvey continues to document the results after enactment of a statewide mandatory safety belt law in 1994 and safety belt enforcement campaign. Data were collect ed 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 2003 (65.5 percent) was higher than that in 2002 (62.0 percent). This compared to 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 2003 statewide usage rate for chil dren under the age of four was determined to be 94.8 percent. This co ntinues the high rate found for this age category and compares to the prev ious high of 92.9 percent in 2002.

The statewide law, except for children, involves secondary enforcement. The high usage rate for children can be relate d to primary enforcement. To obtain the maximum possible increase in usage, the current law should be modified to allow primary, rather than secondary, enforc ement for all vehicle occupants. The potential increase which can result from an emphasis on enforcement was shown by the results obtained during the enforcem ent 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 considered as endorsements.