This paper details an observational study that estimates rates for wearing seat belts in rural Alberta and compares them with rates derived from a similar study conducted in 1999.
Direct observations of drivers and front-seat passengers of 72,593 light-duty vehicles were carried out at 334 survey locations in communities with populations of fewer than 25,000, throughout northern, central and southern Alberta. In addition to seat belt use, information collected included vehicle type, gender of drivers and passengers and, at intersections controlled by a stop sign, whether or not the vehicle came to a complete stop.
The results indicate that in 2001 in rural Alberta the estimated proportion of driver and front-seat passengers of light-duty vehicles using seat belts was 76.1%. When compared with 1999 data, this represents a 6.9% increase in seat belt wearing rates. The data was desegregated further to show differential wearing rates between drivers of different vehicle types, males and females, drivers and passengers, and between those who came to a complete stop at a stop sign and those who did not. The time of day in which data collection took place also had some influence on seat belt wearing rates.
This study contributes valuable information to programs and initiatives that aim to increase the use of seat belts in rural Alberta.