The objective of the survey summarized in this report is to establish 1989 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 1988 showed that driver safety belt usage increased substantially in 1989 while child safety seat usage stabilized in 1989 at close to the 1988 level. The statewide usage rate of safety belts by drivers was 25.5 percent in 1989 compared to 20.5 in 1988, 13.0 percent 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 in either a safety seat or belt was 48.8 percent in 1989 compared to 47.7 percent in 1988, 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.

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 42 percent reduction in fatal or incapacitating injuries was determined for drivers wearing a safety belt compared to those who were not restrained.

The data analysis resulted in the following recommendations: 1) a statewide mandatory safety belt law should be passed or, in lieu of a statewide law, cities should pass such a law, 2) enforcement of the existing child restraint law should be increased, and 3) the existing child restraint law should be strengthened.

Report Date


Report Number


Digital Object Identifier



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 tradenames are for identification purposes and are not considered as endorsements.