Drivers and passengers in Louisiana appear to realize that wearing a seat belt can keep them safe in a car accident. The seat belt usage rate for drivers and front-seat passengers in 2016 reached an all-time high of 87.8 percent, according to a new report commissioned by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. This is an increase of almost two percentage points from 2015.
Seat belt usage rates for drivers and front-seat passengers increased in almost every region of the state compared to last year. The regions with the largest increases included:
- Lake Charles (six percentage points)
- New Orleans (4.2 percentage points)
- Lafayette (3.9 percentage points)
The only regions that did not have year-over-year increases in seat belt usage rates were Alexandria and Monroe, which had decreases of 6.5 and one percentage points, respectively.
Seat Belt Use by Race
One of the main reasons for the increase in seat belt usage rates is that more African-American and Hispanic drivers and passengers are using their seat belts. The usage rates for these groups increased by the following amounts from 2015 to 2016:
- African-Americans – 78.9 percent to 82.6 percent
- Hispanics – 81 percent to 91.6 percent
Researchers discovered that drivers and passengers classified as Hispanic or others had the highest seat belt usage rates in 2016:
- Hispanic drivers – 91.4 percent
- Drivers classified as other – 93.4 percent
- Hispanic front-seat passengers – 92.4 percent
- Front-seat passengers classified as other – 90.7 percent
Seat Belt Usage by Vehicle Type
Researchers looked at seat belt usage by vehicle type as well. Vans had the highest usage rate for drivers and SUVs had the highest rate for passengers.
Usage Rates for Drivers Versus Front-Seat Passengers
- Pickups – 82.2 percent
- Cars – 88.9 percent
- SUVs – 90.3 percent
- Vans – 93.5 percent
- Pickups – 86.1 percent
- Vans – 87.6 percent
- Cars – 88.4 percent
- SUVs – 91.3 percent
Seat Belt Usage by Sex
The report also found that female drivers and passengers were much more likely to wear their seat belts than male drivers or passengers:
- Female versus male driver usage rate – 91 percent to 84.8 percent
- Female versus male passenger usage rate – 83.8 percent to 79.6 percent
Methodology of the Study
The study is based on the results of a series of observational surveys conducted around the state in December 2016.
Observers stood by intersections and other places around the state to watch drivers and note the number of drivers wearing seat belts. Each observational session lasted 60 minutes and occurred between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
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