ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Nighttime seatbelt non-use in serious crashes: A comparison of contributing factors in rural and urban areas of the United States and Queensland

Steinhardt, Dale, Watson, Linda


The level of restraint wearing among the Australian driving population as a whole is consistently noted as being very high in relation to comparable nations such as the United States which do not have primary enforcable seatbelt legislation. Recent research from the U.S. has however noted differential restraint wearing rates on the basis of time of day and rurality, which are reflected strongly in increased representation in fatal road crashes. The current paper presents evidence from police-reported crashes in the U.S. and Queensland as well as data collected as part of the Rural and Remote Road Safety Study that suggests a strong link between nighttime driving, rural location, and the involvement of drivers not using restraints in crashes. Narrative crash details collected as part of study participant interviews are used to provide additional information as to why injured persons chose not to use a restraint. Particular attention is brought to those crashes in which occupants choose not to wear a restraint while driving a short distance. The results are discussed in terms of suggested interventions to target increased seatbelt usage and to maximise the effect of limited available enforcement in rural areas.