Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Monica Swahn, PhD

Second Advisor

Steve Davidson

Abstract

Working to increase seatbelt usage among teenagers in rural settings: The Drive Alive Program (Under the direction of Dr. Monica Swahn)

Background: Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States. Teens are less likely to wear seatbelts than other age groups and more likely to be involved in a crash. The Drive Alive program was designed to improve seatbelt usage among teens.

Purpose: This analysis aims to evaluate seatbelt use among teen drivers in a rural setting. Specifically, are there differences between males and females in terms of seatbelt use? Are drivers more likely to wear their seatbelts than passengers?

Methods: Data was gathered from observational surveys (N= 3,743). Surveys were gathered by trained observers in South Georgia from 2010-2011. Records were analyzed in SPSS using three categories: occupant, sex, and belt use. The null hypotheses for this study are: 1) there is no significant difference between male and female drivers or passengers in seatbelt usage; and, 2) there is no significant difference between driver and passenger seatbelt usage.

Results: Descriptive analyses were computed to determine average seatbelt use across all occupants. Chi Square for Independence tests were computed to determine differences between drivers and passengers and males and females. Females were significantly more likely than males to wear their seatbelt (Females, 70%; Males, 59%). There were no significant differences in seatbelt use for drivers and their passengers.

Conclusions: Results for females being more likely to wear seatbelts is consistent with the literature. Future research might include comparison between schools with different versions of the program. Programs to increase seatbelt usage among teens should include parents, education, enforcement, teen-led activities, and partnership with educators and community organizations. Save the lives of young drivers by modeling seatbelt wearing, appropriately implementing comprehensive seatbelt use improvement programs, and enforcing the law. These simple measures will improve seatbelt use and reduce roadway fatalities.

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