1998 SURVEY RESULTS

CHAPTER 2

REASONS FOR SEAT BELT USE AND NON-USE



Reasons For Seat Belt Use

Drivers who wore shoulder or lap belts at least on occasion were asked their reasons for wearing seat belts when they drove. Eight potential reasons for seat belt use were read, one at a time, to respondents. They were asked whether or not each reason was a factor in their use of seat belts. The respondents were then given an opportunity to volunteer other reasons for their seat belt use. Almost all drivers (96%) said that avoiding serious injury was a reason they wore their seat belts. Injury avoidance ranked first regardless of the group to which persons belonged (see following pages). The drivers also frequently attributed seat belt use to habit (84%), the law (82%), wanting to set a good example for others (75%), and not wanting a ticket (71%).

Figure-21


While 97% of drivers who said they wore their seat belts "all" or "most" of the time gave injury avoidance as a reason for use, only 77% of those who "sometimes" or "rarely" wore seat belts did the same. Frequent users also were more likely than infrequent users to mention the law, setting a good example, and characteristics of regular use (habit; discomfort from their absence). The only reason mentioned more often by infrequent users (59%) than regular users (47%) was that other people wanted them to wear their seat belt.

Figure-22


Females, on average, gave more reasons than males for their seat belt use, as evidenced by the generally higher percentages. They were particularly more likely to report wearing their seat belt because it was the law (87% to 77%), they wanted to set a good example (80% to 70%), and they were uncomfortable without it (64% to 54%).

Drivers ages 16 through 20 showed more concern about getting a ticket (85%) than did drivers ages 21 to 64 (70%) or 65 and older (68%). They also were more likely than the other age groups to say they wore their seat belt because others wanted them to wear it (55%).


TABLE 17
Driver Reasons For Seat Belt Use By Sex And Age

Qx: When I wear my seat belt, I do so because . . . . .
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion wear their seat belt.
Reason Sex Age
Female Male 16-20 21-64 65+
(N=1902) (N=1692) (N=314) (N=2840) (N=404)
Avoid Serious Injury 97% 95% 97% 96% 95%
It's A Habit 87% 82% 83% 84% 87%
It's The Law 87% 77% 86% 80% 88%
Want To Set Good Example 80% 70% 72% 76% 74%
Don't Want Ticket 73% 69% 85% 70% 68%
Uncomfortable Without It 64% 54% 57% 60% 57%
People I'm With Are Wearing Belts 57% 55% 52% 55% 60%
Others Want Me To Wear It 48% 48% 55% 48% 46%

Blacks and Hispanics more frequently cited the law, and the threat of being ticketed, as reasons for seat belt use than did whites and non-Hispanics. They also were more likely to say they wore seat belts in order to set a good example for others. Hispanics were more likely than the other groups to report using their seat belt because the people they were with were wearing seat belts.


TABLE 18
Driver Reasons For Seat Belt Use By Race and Ethnicity

Qx: When I wear my seat belt, I do so because . . . . .
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion wear their seat belt.
Reason Race Ethnicity
Black White Hispanic Non-Hispanic
(N=345) (N=2770) (N=302) (N=3267)
Avoid Serious Injury 97% 95% 97% 95%
It's A Habit 80% 85% 85% 84%
It's The Law 89% 80% 89% 81%
Want To Set Good Example 79% 74% 81% 74%
Don't Want Ticket 81% 69% 84% 70%
Uncomfortable Without It 57% 59% 62% 59%
People I'm With Are Wearing Belts 53% 55% 62% 55%
Others Want Me To Wear It 44% 49% 47% 48%

The lower the education level, the more likely it was that drivers attributed their seat belt use to the law, not wanting to get a ticket, wanting to set a good example, and the group norm (i.e., the people they were with were wearing seat belts). Conversely, persons with college experience were more likely than those with less years of formal education to refer to internally-centered attributes of personal behavior - habit, and not feeling comfortable when traveling unbuckled.


TABLE 19
Driver Reasons For Seat Belt Use By Education

Qx: When I wear my seat belt, I do so because . . . . .
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion wear their seat belt.
Reason Education
Less Than High School High School Grad Some College College Grad
(N=365) (N=1109) (N=914) (N=1177)
Avoid Serious Injury 96% 95% 95% 96%
It's A Habit 82% 81% 84% 89%
It's The Law 89% 85% 81% 76%
Want To Set Good Example 79% 76% 75% 72%
Don't Want Ticket 80% 74% 71% 64%
Uncomfortable Without It 52% 56% 61% 63%
People I'm With Are Wearing Belts 61% 59% 53% 52%
Others Want Me To Wear It 47% 50% 47% 47%

Most Important Reason For Seat Belt Use

Although a majority of drivers who wore seat belts identified multiple reasons for usage, they tended to give greatest weight to safety considerations. Almost two-thirds of drivers (66%) said that avoiding serious injury was the most important reason why they wore their seat belt. No other single factor garnered more than 7% of the driver population when drivers were asked which reason was most important.

Figure-23


The primary reason drivers gave for wearing their seat belt differed according to the reported level of belt usage. About two-thirds (68%) of drivers who "always" or "most of the time" used their belts said that avoiding injury was their most important reason, compared to less than half (46%) of drivers who only rarely/sometimes wore their belts. Not wanting a ticket was more of an issue with the infrequent users (15%) than those who said they usually wore their belts (2%).

Figure-24


The survey found little difference between males and females, and between age groups, in what they considered their most important reason for wearing seat belts. Perhaps the most noticeable difference was slightly higher concern over ticketing by the youngest age group, although this still only amounted to 7%.


TABLE 20
Most Important Reason For Driver Seat Belt Use By Sex And Age

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion wear their seat belt.
Reason Sex Age
Female Male 16-20 21-64 65+
(N=1902) (N=1692) (N=314) (N=2840) (N=404)
Avoid Serious Injury 67% 65% 68% 67% 64%
It's The Law 7% 8% 7% 7% 8%
It's A Habit 6% 6% 7% 6% 8%
Want To Set Good Example For Others 6% 4% 4% 6% 4%
Don't Want Ticket 3% 4% 7% 3% 2%
Uncomfortable Without It 3% 2% 4% 3% 2%
Others Want Me To Wear It 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%
People I'm With Are Wearing Belts * * * * -
Other 4% 4% 2% 4% 4%
Can't Say One Is Most Important/All Are Important 3% 3% - 3% 7%
* Less than 0.5% - Zero cases

Blacks were less likely to consider injury avoidance their primary reason for seat belt use (55%) compared to other groups. In addition, blacks and Hispanics were about twice as likely to cite the law as their major reason for seat belt use compared to whites and non-Hispanics, although the overall percentages were low.


TABLE 21
Most Important Reason For Driver Seat Belt Use
By Race and Ethnicity

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion wear their seat belt.
Reason Race Ethnicity
Black White Hispanic Non-Hispanic
(N=345) (N=2770) (N=302) (N=3267)
Avoid Serious Injury 55% 68% 65% 66%
It's A Habit 8% 6% 4% 6%
It's The Law 14% 6% 13% 7%
Want To Set Good Example 6% 5% 5% 5%
Don't Want Ticket 4% 3% 4% 3%
Uncomfortable Without It 4% 3% 2% 3%
People I'm With Are Wearing Belts 1% * - *
Others Want Me To Wear It 1% 1% - 1%
Other 5% 4% 3% 4%
Can't Say One Is Most Important/All Are important 2% 3% 5% 3%
* Less than 0.5% - Zero cases

The more years of formal education that persons had, the more likely they were to attribute their seat belt use primarily to injury avoidance. At the same time, they were less likely than persons with fewer years of schooling to cite the law as their main reason for seat belt usage.


TABLE 22
Most Important Reason For Driver Seat Belt Use By Education

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion wear their seat belt.
Reason Education
Less Than High School High School Grad Some College College Grad
(N=365) (N=1109) (N=914) (N=1177)
Avoid Serious Injury 57% 62% 68% 73%
It's A Habit 7% 6% 7% 5%
It's The Law 13% 10% 5% 4%
Want To Set Good Example 5% 6% 6% 4%
Don't Want Ticket 3% 5% 3% 3%
Uncomfortable Without It 3% 2% 3% 3%
People I'm With Are Wearing Belts * * * *
Others Want Me To Wear It 1% 1% 1% 1%
Other 4% 3% 5% 5%
Can't Say One Is Most Important/All Are Important 5% 3% 2% 3%
* Less than 0.5%

Reasons For Non-Use Of Seat Belts

Drivers who did not always wear their seat belt during the past year were asked about their reasons for non-use, using methods identical to those described on page 48 (i.e., getting respondents to react to specific reasons, and then giving them the opportunity to add to the list). The most frequent reasons given for non-use by drivers were that they were only going a short distance (56%) or they forgot (53%). Two of every five (40%) said that they were in a rush, while nearly as many (37%) attributed non-use to discomfort from the seat belt.

Figure-25


The vast majority of the non-use described on the previous page came from persons who indicated at least some use of seat belts. However, Figure 25 also included a small number of persons who said that they never wore their seat belt while driving. Reasons for non-use among adamant non-users may differ from that of part time users. Figure 26 suggests that is the case. Although the Figure is based on very small numbers (100 cases), it shows that discomfort (65%) and "Other" reasons (38%) were far more predominant among those who never wore seat belts.

Figure 26
Figure-26


Differences between males and females tended to reflect lesser perception of risk by males (e.g., low probability of crash, driving in light traffic, forgetting). Also, females were slightly more likely than males to cite discomfort or wrinkled clothes. Observed age differences were more problematic due to relatively few young driver cases. The youngest drivers were more apt than older drivers to say they forgot or were in a rush, and seemed more likely than older drivers to be influenced by whether their companions wore belts.


TABLE 23
Driver Reasons For Non-Use Of Seat Belts By Sex And Age

Qx: Sometimes I do not wear my seat belt because . . . . .
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion do not wear their seat belt.
Reason Sex Age
Female Male 16-20 21-64 65+
(N=686) (N=835) (N=172) (N=1207) (N=132)
I'm Only Driving A Short Distance 56% 56% 50% 56% 62%
I Forgot To Put It On 50% 55% 60% 53% 47%
I'm In A Rush 38% 41% 49% 40% 35%
The Seat Belt Is Uncomfortable 39% 35% 37% 38% 32%
I'm Driving In Light Traffic 20% 27% 26% 24% 22%
The Probability Of Being In A Crash Is Too Low 13% 24% 17% 20% 21%
Don't Want My Clothes Wrinkled 12% 7% 8% 10% 4%
People I Am With Are Not Wearing Belts 7% 11% 15% 9% 5%
Other 6% 9% 4% 9% 5%

The number of blacks and Hispanics in the survey who reported non-use of seat belts was quite small. Thus, caution should be exercised in interpreting the statistics. Whites were more likely than blacks to attribute non-use to forgetting or to their driving only a short distance. Hispanics identified discomfort less often than did the other groups, but they may be more prone than others to ignore seat belts when driving in light traffic. Blacks and Hispanics were about twice as likely as whites and non-Hispanics to claim they did not wear their seat belts because they did not want their clothes wrinkled.


TABLE 24
Driver Reasons For Non-Use Of Seat Belts By Race and Ethnicity

Qx: Sometimes I do not wear my seat belt because . . . . .
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion do not wear their seat belt.
Reason Race Ethnicity
Black White Hispanic Non-Hispanic
(N=155) (N=1183) (N=110) (N=1400)
I'm Only Driving A Short Distance 51% 58% 51% 56%
I Forgot To Put It On 46% 55% 51% 53%
I'm In A Rush 39% 41% 42% 40%
The Seat Belt Is Uncomfortable 37% 37% 29% 37%
I'm Driving In Light Traffic 26% 23% 29% 23%
The Probability Of Being In a Crash Is Too Low 17% 21% 19% 19%
Don't Want My Clothes Wrinkled 17% 8% 15% 9%
People I Am With Are Not Wearing Belts 11% 9% 11% 9%
Other 3% 8% 9% 8%

Seat belt non-users who had not completed high school composed relatively few cases in the study, thus once again readers should exercise caution in interpreting the findings. The limited data suggested that this group was somewhat more likely than persons having additional years of formal schooling to refer to forgetting, discomfort, and non-use by their companions as reasons for their own lack of seat belt use.


TABLE 25
Driver Reasons For Non-Use Of Seat Belts By Education

Qx: Sometimes I do not wear my seat belt because . . . . . .
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion do not wear their seat belt.
Reason Education
Less Than High School High School Grad Some College College Grad
(N=165) (N=547) (N=394) (N=405)
I'm Only Driving A Short Distance 55% 54% 56% 59%
I Forgot To Put It On 60% 52% 56% 49%
I'm In A Rush 41% 41% 40% 36%
The Seat Belt Is Uncomfortable 47% 39% 36% 29%
I'm Driving In Light Traffic 23% 26% 22% 23%
The Probability Of Being In A Crash Is Too Low 19% 19% 20% 21%
Don't Want My Clothes Wrinkled 8% 8% 8% 12%
People I Am With Are Not Wearing Belts 15% 9% 6% 10%
Other 4% 9% 8% 8%

Most Important Reason For Non-Use Of Seat Belts

The most important reasons given for not wearing seat belts were usually that they forgot (24%) or were driving just a short distance (22%). These responses tend to be interpreted as reflecting low risk perception. Forgetting suggests there wasn't anything important enough to remind them to wear the seat belt (e.g., perceived risk cues). Short distances are often viewed by persons as "safe" trips, particularly if they involve traveling in familiar terrain that has been navigated safely many times before. About one in six persons (17%) did not agree that any of the listed reasons applied to them and also did not volunteer any reason.

Figure-27


As stated earlier, the vast majority of non-use occurred among persons who indicated at least some use of seat belts. Figure 28 shows that the most important reason for non-use among part time belt users often related to aspects of risk perception (forgetting, driving a short distance). For non-users, discomfort and "other" reasons predominated. These "other" reasons tended to revolve around issues of personal freedom, concern about seat belts being dangerous, and the absence of a habit of wearing seat belts (see Table 26).

Figure-28


TABLE 26
Most Important Reason For Non-Use Of Seat Belt:
Verbatim "Other" Reasons Reported* By Non-Users

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for not wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Non-users of seat belts who said that some "other" reason besides those read to them was the most important reason for their non-use.
I don't believe in them. I think they're a death trap.

Shoulder strap feels [like it's] choking me.

Because I don't like somebody telling me I have to.

Don't believe in it.

Lost my best friend wearing one and I get claustrophobic.

Lives seat belt takes.

It's my choice if I want to wear it or not, not the government's.

Just don't wear it, no matter what vehicle it is.

Had family member die in an accident and they had their seat belt on.

Violation of my rights.

I just never put it [on] even though I'm breaking the law. I am not in the habit.

If it's my time it's my time.

Had a sister in a bad car wreck and if she had her belt on she wouldn't be alive today.

I just don't want to.

Too many friends have died in car accidents with their seat belts on.

Do not like them. Feel confined.

Don't like them and they are uncomfortable.

Seen enough wrecks where seat belts were harmful.

Because I feel it will not save my life.

Not wanting to get caught trying to get out of my car.

Just don't want to wear it.

Friend of mine was in an accident and seat belt wrapped around his neck and choked.

I don't trust them.

Just because I know I have the chance of being killed because I can't get it undone.

Afraid of being trapped in rig.

Never used seat belts so I just got used to not wearing them.

Because it's against my constitutional rights.

I was in a wreck in which if I had the seat belt on I would of died.

Not in a habit of wearing a seat belt.

Don't like the law. Pure case of Bill of Rights abuse.

Air bags. You have a choice.

I've had some friends who got killed in a wreck, not because of the wreck but because the car burned up and they had their seat belts on.

I just don't ever wear it.

*Because of their self-report nature, the statements may be inaccurate when they refer to specific incidents.


The largest differences between the sexes in primary reason for non-use of seat belts were that males more often attributed non-use to forgetting (26% to 20%) while females were almost twice as likely as males to cite discomfort (16% to 9%). Being in a rush was more prevalent among drivers ages 16 through 20 (15%) compared to older motorists, although this finding was based on only a small number of cases for those in the youngest age group.


TABLE 27
Most Important Reason For Driver Non-Use Of Seat Belts
By Sex And Age

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for not wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion do not wear their seat belt.
Reason Sex Age
Female Male 16-20 21-64 65+
(N=686) (N=835) (N=172) (N=1207) (N=132)
I Forgot To Put It On 20% 26% 25% 23% 27%
I'm Only Driving A Short Distance 22% 22% 18% 22% 25%
Belt Is Uncomfortable 16% 9% 13% 12% 13%
I'm In A Rush 8% 8% 15% 7% 2%
Probability Of A Crash Is Too Low 2% 5% 2% 4% 4%
Driving In Light Traffic 1% 3% 2% 3% 1%
Don't Want Wrinkled Clothes 2% 1% 1% 1% 1%
People I'm With Are Not Wearing Belts * 1% 1% 1% 1%
Other Reason 6% 7% 2% 7% 5%
* Less than 0.5%

As with age, there were relatively few cases in some of the racial and ethnic categories, making analysis of the primary reason for non-use of seat belts somewhat problematic. A curiosity was the small percentage of Hispanics (3%), compared to the other groups, who were reacting primarily to discomfort.


TABLE 28
Most Important Reason For Driver Non-Use Of Seat Belts
By Race and Ethnicity

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for not wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion do not wear their seat belt.
Reason Race Ethnicity
Black White Hispanic Non-Hispanic
(N=155) (N=1183) (N=110) (N=1400)
I Forgot To Put It On 19% 25% 29% 23%
I'm Only Driving A Short Distance 19% 22% 23% 22%
Belt Is Uncomfortable 14% 12% 3% 13%
I'm In A Rush 11% 7% 8% 8%
Probability Of A Crash Is Too Low 3% 4% 3% 4%
Driving In Light Traffic 5% 2% 5% 2%
Don't Want Wrinkled Clothes 2% 1% 1% 1%
People I Am With Are Not Wearing Belts 1% 1% - 1%
Other Reason 2% 7% 5% 7%
- Zero cases

The least educated drivers were more likely than drivers who had more years of formal schooling to attribute non-use primarily to discomfort (19%) or being in a rush (12%). However, there were only 165 respondents in that group. Those with the most education were more likely than the others to respond that the most important reason why they did not wear their seat belt was because they were only driving a short distance (27%).


TABLE 29
Most Important Reason For Driver Non-Use Of Seat Belts By Education

Qx: Of the following reasons you just gave me for not wearing your seat belt, which is the most important?
Base: Drivers whose primary vehicle has seat belts, and who at least on occasion do not wear their seat belt.
Reason Education
Less Than High School High School Grad Some College College Grad
(N=165) (N=547) (N=394) (N=405)
I Forgot To Put It On 27% 24% 23% 23%
I'm Only Driving A Short Distance 19% 20% 21% 27%
Belt Is Uncomfortable 19% 14% 11% 7%
I'm In A Rush 12% 7% 9% 6%
Probability Of A Crash Is Too Low 3% 3% 4% 5%
Driving In Light Traffic 1% 3% 1% 3%
Don't Want Wrinkled Clothes - 1% 1% 1%
People I Am With Are Not Wearing Belts * * * 1%
Other Reason 4% 7% 6% 8%
*Less than 0.5% - Zero cases

What Drivers Dislike Or Find Annoying About Seat Belts

All drivers, whether or not they wore their seat belts regularly, were asked if there was anything that they particularly disliked or found annoying about wearing them. More than one-third (36%) answered "Yes." Almost all the rest responded that there was not any particular thing they disliked (63%). Less than 1 percent (0.2%) said that they did not know, or else refused to respond.

Figure-29


Not surprisingly, persons who infrequently wore their seat belt were most likely to report annoyances. Whereas 34% of drivers who reported wearing their seat belt "all of the time" while driving also said there was something particularly annoying about the belt, 41% of "most of the time" users and 45% of "sometime" users voiced similar complaints. Slightly more than one-half of those who rarely or never wore their seat belt said that there was something they disliked or found annoying about it.


Figure-30


Although the previous chapter showed females more likely than males to wear seat belts, they also were more likely to complain about the devices. More than four out of ten females (42%) said there was something they particularly disliked or found annoying about wearing their seat belt compared to fewer than one-third (31%) of males.


Figure-31


The previous chapter also suggested that being overweight could deter seat belt use, presumably through discomfort. However, the pattern was less clear with respect to professed annoyance with seat belts. Although the highest percentage of respondents expressing discontent occurred in the heaviest weight group for both males (35%) and females (44%), most of the remaining weight groups were close enough for the differences to be statistically insignificant.


Figure-32


If drivers reported that the shoulder belt in their primary vehicle was adjustable, then they were less likely to express annoyance about seat belts. Whereas 32% of respondents with adjustable shoulder belts in their primary vehicle said there was something they particularly disliked or found annoying about wearing their seat belt, 40% without adjustable shoulder belts did the same. When only the drivers who said they had actually used the adjustable feature of their shoulder belts are considered, 33% expressed annoyance with seat belts.

Figure-33


If respondents said there was something they particularly disliked or found annoying about seat belts, they were asked to specify what bothered them. The most common complaint involved pressure or pain on various parts of the body (53%). Females (62%) especially experienced this type of discomfort, particularly being choked by the seat belt (47%).


TABLE 30
What Drivers Dislike Or Find Annoying About Seat Belts

Qx:: Is there anything that you particularly dislike or find annoying about wearing your seat belt?
Qx: What is it that you dislike or find annoying? Anything else?
Base: Drivers who dislike or find something annoying about seat belts.
Dislikes/Annoyances Total
(N=1357)
Males
(N=566)
Females
(N=791)
Discomfort: Body Pressure/Pain 53% 40% 62%
Pressure on my neck/chokes me/ cuts across my neck 37% 24% 47%
Pressure on my shoulder/shoulder strap too tight 15% 14% 15%
Pressure on my chest/strap doesn't fit my chest 3% 2% 4%
Pressure on my stomach/lap belt is too tight 2% 3% 2%
Painful for body ailments 1% * 1%
Belt Too Tight 4% 5% 3%
       
Discomfort: Body Irritation 10% 8% 11%
Irritates/chafes my skin/rash 9% 8% 11%
Makes me perspire/perspire when it's hot outside * * -
Seat belt should be padded/material is too harsh * * *
       
Discomfort: Other 13% 15% 11%
Uncomfortable (unspecified) 11% 14% 9%
Uncomfortable during pregnancy 1% - 1%
Claustrophobia/claustrophobic 1% 1% *
Any other discomfort mentions * * 1%
* Less than 0.5% - Zero cases
Numbers do not add to 100% due to multiple response.
Dislikes/Annoyances Total
(N=1357)
Males
(N=566)
Females
(N=791)
Confining 15% 21% 10%
Feel restricted/too confining/constricting 10% 15% 6%
Hard to turn around/look behind me when backing up 2% 3% 2%
Hard to lean forward 2% 3% 1%
In case of crash/emergency/it's hard to get out of car 2% 2% 1%
Any other movement restrictions mentions 1% 1% 1%
       
Other      
Wrinkles my clothes 8% 5% 10%
Need to adjust seat belt for my size 7% 5% 9%
Seat belt is loose fitting * * 1%
Seat belts are a nuisance/hassle/annoyance 4% 6% 3%
Invasion of privacy/taking away constitutional rights 4% 7% 1%
Takes too much time to fasten seat belt 2% 3% 2%
Manual buckling/release it manually 3% 4% 2%
Any other seat belt adjustment mentions 1% * 1%
Seat belt gets stuck (unspecified) 2% 3% 2%
Seat belt gets stuck in door * * *
Any other seat belt malfunction mentions 1% 1% *
Automatic seat belt gets in the way 1% 1% 1%
Don't like automatic seat belts 1% 2% 1%
Any other miscellaneous mentions 1% 2% 1%
Don't know/no answer 2%

2% 2%
* Less than 0.5%

Reasons For Seat Belt Use By Non-Drivers

Interviewers asked non-drivers their reasons for seat belt use while riding as passengers in motor vehicles. The approach was the same as that used with drivers: eight different reasons were read, one at a time, and non-drivers were asked whether or not each reason was a factor in their use of seat belts. They were then given an opportunity to volunteer other reasons for their seat belt use. Non-drivers and drivers were similar on most items, the exceptions being a greater tendency among non-drivers to refer to social pressures (people they were with; others wanted them to wear seat belts) while drivers more often referred to habit.

Figure-34


By far the most important reason for seat belt use by non-drivers (62%), as with drivers (66%), was to avoid serious injury. The "law" ranked a distant second for both groups.

Figure-35


Non-Drivers' Reasons For Not Using Seat Belts

Non-drivers who at least sometimes did not wear a seat belt while riding were asked their reasons for non-use.(1) As with drivers, interviewers read eight potential reasons to respondents. For each one, non-drivers were asked to agree or disagree that they sometimes did not wear their belt for that reason. They were then given an opportunity to volunteer other reasons why they did not use their seat belts. Readers are cautioned that the number of non-drivers (N=173) was relatively small in these analyses.

The most commonly cited reason was that they forgot to wear their seat belt (48%). Other frequently cited reasons were that they were only riding a short distance (41%), the seat belt was uncomfortable (38%), and they were in a rush (33%). About one-in-five persons attributed at least some of their non-use to their companions not wearing seat belts (22%), riding in light traffic (21%), or the probability of a crash being too low (18%).

Forgetting also ranked first as the most important reason for non-use of seat belts among non-drivers; approximately one-in-five (24%) gave it as the chief cause. Discomfort (17%), riding only a short distance (11%), and being in a rush (7%) followed in frequency. However, about one-in-six persons (17%) did not agree that any of the listed reasons applied to them and also did not volunteer any reason.

The largest differences between drivers and non-drivers in the reasons given for not wearing seat belts occurred in the "short distance" and "people I'm with" response categories. Drivers were more likely to attribute non-use to traveling only a short distance (56% to 41%). Conversely, non-drivers (22%) were more likely than drivers (9%) to say they did not wear seat belts because the people they were with were not wearing them. Thus once again non-drivers appeared more affected by social pressures (see page 76).

Figure-36


Drivers were about twice as likely as non-drivers to answer that the most important reason they did not wear their seat belt was because they were only going a short distance (22% versus 11%). There was little difference between the two groups on other items.

Figure-37


Vince and Larry, The Crash Dummies

The critical need to communicate to the public the importance of seat belt use prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to expend substantial resources to develop public service announcements and conduct other safety marketing activities to convey the message to "buckle up." Advertisements about seat belt use in which Vince and Larry, the crash dummies, were the central characters have been an important part of DOT's effort. This survey found widespread public exposure to the crash dummy ads. More than eight-in-ten persons (83%) recalled seeing or hearing ads that used crash dummies. Among those who had seen the ads, 70% recalled that the message was to wear seat belts. This translated into 58% of the population age 16 and older who remembered the crash dummy ads and also recalled that the ads promoted seat belt use.


Figure-38

The crash dummy advertisements appeared to be most successful in reaching younger target audiences. Recall of both the ads and their seat belt message was highest among the 21-to-24-year-olds (73%), and declined with each subsequent age group.


Figure-39




1. Unlike the drivers, non-drivers who never wore seat belts were excluded from the question.