Keywords: occupant protection, women, health education, pregnancy
Research indicates females wear seat belts at a higher rate than males. However, this only applies to driver seat belt use. This paper focuses on the right-front passenger seating position and assesses the seat belt wearing rate for all passengers with a focus on females. The data is from the North Carolina Seat Belt survey from 2011-2016. This is observational seat belt data collected at a random sample of intersections in accordance with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines. Statistical tests indicated significantly lower seat belt rates for female passengers. Using logistic regression, we investigated the demographic factors that predict passenger seat belt use for all passengers and for females. The paper discusses possible reasons why female passengers have lower seat belt wearing rates, including pregnancy status, obesity, and distraction by rear-seat occupants. Given previous research which shows increased severity of injuries in this seating position and on obese or female passengers, the lower rate of belt use is a health policy concern. The paper discusses directions for education campaigns to improve compliance and health outcomes.