Research Update: Primary Enforcement Laws Reach Groups Least Likely to Use Safety Belts
Beck LF, Shults RA, Mack KA, Ryan GW. Associations between sociodemographics and safety belt use in states with and without primary enforcement laws. American Journal of Public Health 2007; 97(9):1619–1624.
Primary enforcement safety belt laws may have the greatest impact on groups least likely to wear safety belts. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers, these groups include males, young adults, those with limited education, Native Americans/Alaska Natives, the obese, and impaired drivers. For each of these groups, safety belt use was at least 13 percentage points higher in states with primary enforcement laws than those with secondary enforcement laws. Overall, safety belt use was 85% in primary enforcement states and 74% in secondary enforcement states.
Safety belt use is the single most effective way to prevent crash–related deaths. The study, "Associations between sociodemographics and safety belt use in states with and without primary enforcement laws," published in the American Journal of Public Health, supports primary enforcement laws as an effective population-based strategy to increase overall safety belt use and to reduce disparities among subpopulations.
CDC researchers analyzed 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from 50 states and the District of Columbia. They performed statistical analyses to assess the impact of sociodemographic characteristics (i.e., gender, race and ethnicity, age, education, household income, marital status, population density, body mass index, and driving after drinking) and safety belt laws on self-reported safety belt use.
Primary vs. Secondary Enforcement Laws
Primary enforcement safety belt laws allow police to stop and ticket motorists solely for being unbelted. Secondary laws only allow police to issue a safety belt citation if the vehicle has been stopped for another reason (e.g., speeding). Primary laws more effectively increase safety belt use and reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries than secondary laws.
For More Information
To learn more about interventions to increase the use of safety belts and other systematic reviews related to motor vehicle injury prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety. To learn more about motor vehicle–related injuries, visit www.cdc.gov/health/motor.htm.
Get email updates
To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
4770 Buford Hwy, NE
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC–INFO