To effectively address the challenge of increasing seat belt use among vehicle occupants in rural areas, the Region 4 Rural Seat Belt Project was created in July 2008. The campaign is consisting of high-visibility enforcement, messages and materials tailored towards rural populations regarding enforcement of seat belt laws. Efforts will take into account high risk driving times and situations, such as nighttime, rear seat belt use, and other issues related to low belt use for rural populations.
The project will re-test the strategies and refine the model developed in the Great Lakes Region (Region 5) Region-wide Rural Demonstration Program in 2005. That project marked a shift in strategy for conducting rural seat belt programs from an education/social norming approach to high-visibility enforcement. Seat belt use increased significantly in all Region 5 States, and rates increased more in rural targeted areas than they did statewide. After the first year, rural targeted areas had a median seven-percentage-point increase in belt usage, compared to 5 percentage points statewide.
The cooperative effort in Region 4 will work within rural communities to prevent injuries and fatalities by raising belt use and began in two States, Georgia and Tennessee. The project complements the national "Click It or Ticket" (CIOT) mobilizations