Monday, March 10, 2003
|Contact: Ellen Martin
Telephone: (202) 366-9550
Safety Belt Use by African Americans
Registers Sharp Increase to Record Level,
Latest NHTSA Belt Use Survey Shows
Safety belt use among African Americans registered a major gain between 2000 and 2002, increasing to essentially the same level as that of the general population, according to estimates from a major survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The new data were released today by NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., during a speech before the Lifesavers 2003 conference in Chicago. Also at the conference, the largest annual gathering of highway safety professionals, Dr. Runge presented 14 NHTSA awards for public service.
The latest NHTSA survey indicates that African Americans currently use safety belts 77 percent of the time, an 8 percentage point increase since 2000 and the highest level reported since the agency began conducting such surveys nine years ago. The comparable figure for the overall U.S. population is now 75 percent.
"These numbers are the result of years of hard work by our traffic safety partners in the African American community. This is extremely heartening," Dr. Runge said, "and will quickly result in fewer deaths and injuries to our citizens."
Gains in safety belt use by African Americans are attributable to a significant degree to efforts by the Meharry Medical College, the Blue Ribbon Panel To Increase Seat Belt Use Among African Americans, and to a number of African American organizations that implemented the panel’s recommendation, Dr. Runge said.
In addition to other findings from the survey, the new NHTSA statistics indicate that the gender gap for safety belt use is narrowing, although males still lag females by 7 percentage points. That compares with a 10 percentage point difference in 2000. Males are now restrained 72 percent of the time, while females use safety belts 79 percent of the time.
The latest NHTSA survey also shows a significant improvement in safety belt use among youths. Those in the 8- to 15-year-old age group were restrained 82 percent of the time in the 2002 survey. The most comparable estimate from the previous survey for 2000 showed that 66 percent of youths age 5 to 15 were buckled up.
In February, NHTSA reported that restraint use among young children rose to a record level in 2002. An estimated 99 percent of infants under age one are now restrained, up 4 percentage points from 2000. Fully 94 percent of toddlers are now restrained, a 3 percentage point gain over two years ago. The latest statistics indicate that 83 percent of children ages four to seven are restrained. No comparable statistics are available for this age group from previous NHTSA surveys.
Restraint use estimates are based on the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), conducted periodically by NHTSA. The latest survey was conducted in June 2002 and its results were compared with a prior NOPUS survey done in the fall of 2000, which also tracked safety belt use among various demographic groups.
Additional key findings of the latest NOPUS survey include the following:
NHTSA has been gathering NOPUS statistics on restraint use since 1994. The latest numbers were derived from a survey conducted during a 20-day period beginning on June 3, 2002. NHTSA data collectors observed 37,900 vehicles at 1,100 intersections throughout the United States. In the course of the survey, they observed 37,900 drivers and 11,600 passengers. These included 38,100 whites, 6,000 African Americans and 5,400 other individuals.
The margin of error for the survey on restraint use is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for African Americans, 3.2 percentage points for whites, and 3.8 for other racial groups. The newly released NHTSA survey results are summarized in a research note on the agency’s Website at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/airbags/demographic03-03/demographic.htm
In addition to releasing the latest statistics on safety belt at the Lifesavers Conference in Chicago, Dr. Runge today presented the 2003 NHTSA Awards for Public Service to the following individuals and organizations:
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