The objective of the survey summarized in this report is to establish 1988 safety belt and child safety seat usage rates in Kentucky to compare to those determined from previous surveys. Also included in this report is an analysis of accident records evaluating the effectiveness of safety belts.

Statewide usage rates in the 19 cities previously surveyed in 1982 through 1986 showed that both driver safety belt usage and child safety seat and safety belt usage increased significantly in 1988 compared to previous years. The statewide usage rate of safety belts by drivers was 20.5 percent in 1988 compared to 13.0 in 1986, 9.2 percent in 1985, 6.9 percent in 1984, 5.8 percent in 1983, and 4.2 percent in 1982. The percentage of children (under four years of age) in either a safety seat or belt was 47.7 percent in 1988 compared to 30.2 percent in 1986, 29.1 percent in 1985, 30.3 percent in 1984, 24.2 percent in 1983, and 15,4 percent in 1982. Usage rates for front-seat passengers in 1988 were higher than those determined in 1986 and 1985 for each age category.

Benefits in the reduction of injuries for occupants involved in police-reported accidents wearing a safety belt or in a. safety seat were shown through the analysis of accident records. For example, a 40 percent reduction in fatal or incapacitating injuries was determined for drivers wearing a safety belt compared to those who were not restrained. The documented effectiveness of safety belts as a means of reducing injuries provides support for the recommendation of enactment of a mandatory safety belt law.

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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.