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Effectiveness: 3 Star Cost: Varies
Use: Unknown
Time: Varies

Unlike short-term seat belt enforcement that occurs for a limited duration, typically a couple weeks, sustained seat belt enforcement lasts for months or even years. Short-term enforcement is held at points in time (e.g., enforcement as part of the May CIOT campaign) while sustained seat belt enforcement is continuous enforcement of seat belt use.   


The extent of vigorous sustained belt law enforcement, with or without extensive publicity, is unknown. Some jurisdictions, including California, Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Washington, enforce their seat belt use laws vigorously as part of customary traffic enforcement activities.


There are few studies of the effectiveness of sustained enforcement (Hedlund et al., 2004). California and Oregon, States that are reported to use sustained enforcement, have recorded statewide belt use well above national belt use rates since 2002. Oregon’s seat belt use rate has increased from 88% in 2002 to 94.9% in 2021 and California’s increased from 91% in 2002 to 97.2% in 2021 compared to 75 to 90.4% nationally (NCSA, 2007: NCSA, 2022).

Nichols and Ledingham (2008) conducted a review of the impact of enforcement, as well as legislation and sanctions, on seat belt use over the past 2 decades. This study concluded that sustained enforcement (implemented as a component of regular patrols or as special patrols) is as effective as “blitz” enforcement (short-term, HVE), but, unlike blitz campaigns, is not usually associated with abrupt drops in belt use after program completion.

While not specifically looking at sustained enforcement, Hezaveh et al. (2019) found a link between the perception of receiving a seat belt ticket and likelihood of reporting seat belt use, indicating the importance of the perception of consistent enforcement.


Sustained enforcement may require funds for publicity. As with short-term, HVE programs, publicity costs will depend on the mix of earned and paid media.

Time to implement:

Sustained enforcement by law enforcement officers can be implemented once the law enforcement agency develops and implements a sustained seat belt enforcement plan. If extensive publicity is used, it will take 3 or 4 months to plan and implement initially, but this time will decrease once the program has been implemented for some period of time.