The Effects of Mandatory Seatbelt Laws on Seatbelt Use, Motor Vehicle Fatalities, and Crash-Related Injuries Among Youths

Economics/Public Policy, The Paul Merage School of Business, 443 SB UC Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-3125, United States.
Journal of Health Economics (Impact Factor: 2.58). 06/2008; 27(3):642-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2007.09.010
Source: PubMed


We provide the first comprehensive assessment of the effects of mandatory seatbelt laws on self-reported seatbelt use, highway fatalities, and crash-related injuries among high school age youths using data from the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) national, state, and local Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1991 to 2005, a period spanning over 20 changes in state seatbelt laws. Our quasi-experimental approaches isolate the independent effects of seatbelt laws net of demographic characteristics, area and year fixed effects, and smooth area-specific trends. Across all data sources, we find consistent evidence that state mandatory seatbelt laws - particularly those permitting primary enforcement - significantly increased seatbelt use among high school age youths by 45-80%, primarily at the extensive margin. Unlike previous research for adults, however, we find evidence against the selective recruitment hypothesis: seatbelt laws had consistently larger effects on those most likely to be involved in traffic accidents (drinkers, alcohol-involved drivers). We also find that mandatory seatbelt laws significantly reduced traffic fatalities and serious injuries resulting from fatal crashes by 8 and 9%, respectively. Our results suggest that if all states had primary enforcement seatbelt laws then regular youth seatbelt use would be nearly universal and youth fatalities would fall by about 120 per year.

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    • "for speed limit regulation (Dee and Sela, 2003), mandatory seat belt laws (Carpenter and Stehr, 2008) and changes to BAC levels (Albalate, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The road safety literature is typified by a high degree of compartmentalization between studies that focus on infrastructure and traffic conditions and those devoted to the evaluation of public policies and regulations. As a result, few studies adopt a unified empirical framework in their attempts at evaluating the road safety performance of public interventions, thus limiting our understanding of successful strategies in this regard. This paper considers both types of determinants in an analysis of a European country that has enjoyed considerable success in reducing road fatalities. After constructing a panel data set with road safety outcomes for all Spanish provinces between 1990 and 2009, we evaluate the role of the technical characteristics of infrastructure and recent infrastructure spending together with the main regulatory changes introduced. Our results show the importance of considering both types of determinants in a unified framework. Moreover, we highlight the importance of maintenance spending given its effectiveness in reducing fatalities and casualties in the current economic context of austerity that is having such a marked impact on investment efforts in Spain.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Accident; analysis and prevention
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    • "Most research on mandatory seat belt laws has focused on their overall effectiveness in raising seat belt use and reducing mortality (e.g., Cohen and Einav, 2003; Houston and Richardson, 2006a). A few studies have assessed whether certain demographic groups may respond differently to mandatory seat belt laws (Dee, 1998; Shults et al., 2004b; Carpenter and Stehr, 2008), but no studies have analyzed whether the response to laws varies by socioeconomic characteristics such as education or income. Understanding differences in seat belt use among such groups is important for several reasons. "
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the effect of mandatory seat belt laws on socioeconomic differences in seat belt use. We identified the differential effect of legislation across socioeconomic groups using a difference-in-difference-in-differences model based on state variations in the timing of the passage of laws. Seat belt laws consistently reduced educational and income gaps, with the smallest differences between socioeconomic groups observed among states which do not require any other violation to issue a citation for seat belt non-use (primary enforcement). Our results imply that existing socioeconomic differences would be further mitigated if all states upgraded to primary enforcement.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2012 · SSRN Electronic Journal
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    • "Wearing a rear seatbelt has proven to be effective in reducing the risk of death of motorcar occupants, especially rear-seat passengers , in motor vehicle crashes (King and Yang, 1995; Brown and Cline, 2001; Ichikawa et al., 2002; Broughton, 2004; Shimamura et al., 2005; Zhu et al., 2007; Carpenter and Stehr, 2008) because seatbelt can prevent rear-seat passengers from being ejected from the car and help to avoid human collisions amongst the rear-seat passengers and also colliding with front-seat occupants during a road crash. "
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    ABSTRACT: The benefit of wearing a rear seatbelt in reducing the risk of motor vehicle crash-related fatalities and injuries has been well documented in previous studies. Wearing a seatbelt not only reduces the risk of injury to rear-seat passengers, but also reduces the risk of injury to front-seat occupant who could be crushed by unbelted rear-seat passengers in a motor vehicle crash. Despite the benefits of wearing a rear seatbelt, its rate of use in Malaysia is generally low. The objective of this study was to identify factors that are associated with the wearing of a seatbelt among rear-seat passengers in Malaysia. Multinomial logistic regression analysis of the results of a questionnaire survey of 1651 rear-seat passengers revealed that rear-seat passengers who were younger, male, single and less educated and who had a perception of a low level of legislation enforcement, a lower risk-aversion and less driving experience (only for passengers who are also drivers) were less likely to wear a rear seatbelt. There was also a significant positive correlation between driver seatbelt and rear seatbelt-wearing behaviour. This implies that, in regards to seatbelt-wearing behaviour, drivers are more likely to adopt the same seatbelt-wearing behaviour when travelling as rear-seat passengers as they do when driving. These findings are crucial to the development of new interventions to increase the compliance rate of wearing a rear seatbelt.
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