New Study Looks at Why Drivers Don’t Buckle Up EVERY Time

by Carmen Dellutri on April 8, 2013

Fort Myers car accident attorneyA seatbelt is one of your best defenses in a Port Charlotte car accident. In fact, if drivers and front-seat passengers used seatbelts all the time, traffic fatalities would be reduced by 45 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

However, 15 percent of drivers still fail to buckle up every time.

Since the benefits of the seatbelts are now widely touted, a recent study examined why drivers are choosing to live on the edge. "We wanted to find out what makes occasional seatbelt users buckle up more than half the time," said Jon Hankey, senior associate director for research and development at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. "They know it is a good idea, so why don't they do it all of the time?"

The naturalistic driving study is unique because it did not rely solely on driver reports, but used vehicles equipped with sensing and recording equipment to track the driving behaviors of 108 primary and 299 secondary drivers. The researchers specifically examined factors such as personality type, gender, age, trip distance, speed, and time of day.

The study found that seatbelts were worn in 79.1 percent of the primary driver trips and 81.2 percent of secondary driver trips. Infrequent users included those wearing a seatbelt in 30 percent or fewer of their trips, occasional users as wearing a seatbelt in 40–85 percent of their trips, and consistent users as wearing a seatbelt in more than 95 percent of their trips. The researchers identified 13 infrequent seatbelt users (18,017 trips), 16 occasional users (20,846 trips), and 56 consistent users (63,858 trips).

Below are some other interesting findings, as detailed by

  • On an average trip speed of 30 mph, such as when driving around town, 72.7 percent of occasional belt users would be belted, whereas the estimate of belt use at an average trip speed of 50 mph was 89 percent.
  • Young women were more likely to be infrequent belt users than women over 40.
  • Individuals with higher educational attainment are more frequently consistent belt users.
  • Occasional belt users scored higher on aggressive driving than consistent users. "This result would be expected in that consistent seatbelt use should be indicative of safe driving, and safe drivers should theoretically drive less aggressively," said researcher Ian J. Reagan.
  • Drivers in the infrequent-user group had an at-fault crash/near crash rate approximately double that of the other two groups. "The analysis was not statistically significant, but the finding has important safety implications; converting these at-risk drivers to consistent belt users would reduce injury severity," said researcher Julie McClafferty.
  • Consistent belt users took significantly fewer trips per day than infrequent and occasional belt users, suggesting there may be a “convenience factor'” associated with belt use.

As the findings highlight, drivers may be underestimating the risk of injury or crash when they decide not to buckle up. The truth is that short trips and low speeds can still lead to serious accidents.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Port Charlotte accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Port Charlotte injury attorneys for a free consultation.

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