Getting Americans to buckle up: The efficacy of state seat belt laws

David J. Houston, Lilliard E. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Annual state observed safety belt use rates over the period 1991-2001 are examined using time-series cross-section regression analysis. It was found that seat belt laws are associated with higher use rates and that the enforcement provision matters. Primary states experience belt use rates that on average are 9.1 percentage points higher than their secondary counterparts. In addition, the level of the fine imposed by statute has an effect on safety belt use apart from that attributable to the enforcement provision. The current median fine of $25 is associated with an additional 3.8 percentage points increase in belt use. To further increase safety belt use, it is recommended that states adopt primary enforcement and impose fines of at least $50 for violating a seat belt law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1120
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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