Seat Belt Laws: Implications for Occupant Protection 790683
Laws requiring seat belt use have had some limited success in reducing occupant fatalities. However, fatality reductions have been considerably less than expected from the reported increases in belt use rates because belt use by those in crashes has not increased to the same extent. Occupants most likely to be in serious crashes are least likely to increase their use of belts in response to laws.
In addition, many involuntary belt users comply with belt use laws by wearing their belts incorrectly, in ways that greatly reduce their effectiveness, and many in front seats who wear belts in response to laws are susceptible to being impacted in crashes by unbelted rear seat occupants.
The incomplete success of belt use laws does not reduce their importance as a countermeasure, but does reinforce the importance of providing automatic (“passive”) protection to vehicle occupants as an alternative or supplementary countermeasure.