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Drivers’ attitudes toward front or rear child passenger belt use and seat belt reminders at these seating positions

Kidd, David G.; McCartt, Anne T.
Traffic Injury Prevention
April 2014

Objective: Passengers, especially those in rear seating positions, use seat belts less frequently than drivers. In-vehicle technology can inform drivers when their passengers are unbuckled and encourage passengers to use belts. The current study collected information about drivers’ attitudes toward passenger belt use and belt reminders for front passengers and children in back seats.
Methods: A national telephone survey of 1218 people 18 and older was conducted, of which 477 respondents were drivers who transport a front seat passenger at least once a week and 254 were drivers who transport an 8- to 15-year-old child in the back seat. Respondents were asked about their attitudes toward belt use by their front passengers or rear child passengers and preferences for different passenger belt reminder features.
Results: Ninety percent of drivers who regularly transport front seat passengers said that the passengers always use seat belts. Reported belt use was even higher among 8- to 15-year-old children in the back seat (97%). Among the drivers whose children do not always buckle up, about half said their child unbuckled the belt during the trip. Almost every full-time belt use driver (96%) would encourage front passengers to buckle up if not belted, compared to 57 percent of part-time belt users and nonusers. In contrast, nearly every driver who transports children in the back seat would encourage their belt use, regardless of the driver's belt use habits. Most drivers who transport front passengers wanted passenger belt reminders to encourage passengers to buckle up. Most of these drivers wanted a chime/buzzer or warning light or text display and wanted the reminder to last indefinitely. Most drivers who transport child passengers in the rear seat wanted the vehicle to indicate whether child passengers are unbuckled. A large majority of these drivers wanted notifications via a visual diagram of seating positions and belt use, a chime/buzzer, and a warning light or text display. These drivers also wanted the vehicle to provide belt use information until the child buckled up.
Conclusions: Many drivers, especially those who always use seat belts, said they would encourage unbuckled passengers to buckle up and supported auditory and visual belt reminders for passengers, particularly for children sitting in the back seat. Front and rear passenger reminders that last indefinitely would be acceptable to most drivers who transport these passengers. An auditory alert may be especially useful to alert drivers to children unbuckling in the back seat during a trip.