Rural Pickup Truck Drivers and Safety Belt Use: Focus Group Report



Technical Report Page

Executive Summary


Defining the Problem


Gender and Other Characteristics

Laws Pertaining to Children and Cargo Areas

Focus Groups: Background

Moderator's Guide and Topics of Discussion

Focus Groups: Findings

Focus Group Participants' Attitudes Toward Safety Measures

Focus Group Participants' Safety Belt Use

Focus Group Participants' Responses to Specific Reasons/Approaches

Focus Group Responses to Existing Campaign Approaches - English-Speaking Group

Focus Group Responses to Existing Campaign Approaches - Hispanic Group

Campaign Component Development - English-Speaking Group

Campaign Component Development - Hispanic Group



List of Tables

List of Figures





Focus Group Participants' Attitudes Toward Safety Measures

Participants first discussed attitudes toward safety in general. There were several factors that influenced whether a man considered himself safety conscious. The first was age. Older participants were more likely than those in their early twenties to say they were conscientious about all issues related to safety. Men with young children were more concerned about household safety than those who were single or those whose children have grown and left home. Men who worked in more dangerous jobs were more cognizant of general safety issues and tried to avoid occupational injuries. Those who had been previously injured either in a work related mishap or an automobile crash were more likely to be safety conscious.

"At work I'm more safety conscious because I work around a power company a lot. There's a lot of power there." Detroit, Michigan - (28 and older male)

"You've always got to be on the lookout or thinking that somebody doesn't know what they're doing or is not paying attention. If you do that, then you're ahead of the game- especially now because the stress level has increased with everything that's going on. You have people working a lot more hours. They're tired. You've got to pay attention." Atlanta, Georgia - (28 and older male)

"I think I've become a lot more safe or at least conscious of it after having children. I don't really think about dying, but then once you think about leaving your children or something like that, it makes you think about the things I used to do." Great Falls, Montana - (28 and older male)

Men in all the age groups and focus group locations said they needed to pay more attention to safety issues such as adhering to the speed limit, not driving home after drinking a few beers, using turn signals when changing lanes to alert other drivers of their intentions, avoiding drivers talking on cell phones, not tailgating, wearing protective clothing as per OSHA restrictions, and wearing safety belts.

The Hispanic men, in contrast, said they did not consider themselves safety conscious. They indicated that safety is not a concept strongly reinforced in their socialization.

While the majority of men believed that safety belts were important relative to their safety and agreed that safety belts save lives and have a purpose, overall, participants from all groups found safety belts "uncomfortable," "restrictive," and in the extreme, "a violation of a first amendment right." The general consensus among the men was that once you reach a certain age, you're responsible for yourself. They saw the law as placing limits on their freedom of choice. One participant summed it up this way:

"I think if you're responsible enough to drive a car, you should be responsible enough to make the decision whether nor not to wear a seat belt."

They held a skeptical view regarding the usefulness of safety belts and were especially worried about becoming trapped in their vehicle in case of a crash. Some participants felt that safety laws are inconsistent. For example, they did not understand why motorcycle riders were not required by law in some States to wear helmets, but motorists must wear a safety belt.

"Personally, I didn't like it when the law came out. As a grown person, I just about think it was unconstitutional to mandate to say you have to wear a seat belt because if you get injured or don't get injured, it's your own red wagon. You're not affecting anyone else on the road." Atlanta, Georgia - (28 and older male)

"Once you're an adult, you should make your own choice. They don't have a helmet law in Montana for a motorcycle. That's about the most ridiculous thing I think I've ever heard. They make you wear a seat belt but not a helmet." Great Falls, Montana - (28 and older male)

"They're very restrictive. It makes you feel like you're just confined and you can't do anything. I know in my truck, the seat belt presses in tight. You try to move it a little bit, and it locks in. You can't even lean forward or anything." Atlanta, Georgia - (18-27 year old male)

"I think seat belts are a waste of time. I'm in agriculture. I never use it because I'm in and out all day. I'm 55 years old. I went for 40 years without using them. They're just in the way. Every time you put it on, you have to get out and unhook it. Then you get those ones that are going automatically and wrap around your neck. They're just basically a waste of time for me." Great Falls, Montana - (28 and older male)

"I consider myself an adult. If I don't want to wear my seat belt, then I shouldn't have to. They shouldn't be able to tell me: 'You have to wear your seat belt or we're going to fine you.' I think it's a money issue, just another way for them to make some money at $50 a pop." Detroit, Michigan - (18-27 year old male)

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