Stricter safety belt laws increase teen use: study

May 9, 2012

Philadelphia – Teens are 12 percent less likely to use safety belts as a driver and 15 percent less likely as a passenger in states with secondary safety belt laws, according to a study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention.

As part of the study, researchers analyzed survey results of 3,126 high school-aged drivers from the 2006 National Young Driver Survey. Teen drivers reported using safety belts 81.5 percent of the time, and passengers 68.9 percent of the time. Researchers found that a reduction in safety belt use as teens progressed from learner to unrestricted license holder occurred in states that had secondary enforcement of safety belt use.

Primary safety belt enforcement allows police officers to pull over a vehicle if they observe an unbelted driver or front-seat passenger. Secondary enforcement allows officers to ticket for safety belt violations only after stopping the motorist for another offense.

The study was published online in April in the American Journal of Public Health.