Injury prevention experts have long understood that teens prefer not to wear seat belts while driving. Now, a new research has found that adolescent passengers also rarely use seat belts.
In the first ever-direct comparison of the differences between driver and passenger seat belt use for teen population, the Meharry researchers found that 59percent of teens always buckled up in the driver seat but only 42 percent always wore seat belts as passengers.
Even more sobering, only 38 percent of all teens reported always buckling up as both drivers and passengers.
The study population comprised over 12,000 African American, white, and Hispanic public and private high school students ages 16 or older who participated in the 2001 and 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.
"Because seat belts can reduce the risk of injury and death in crashes by more than 50percent, there is a critical need for interventions to increase seat belt use by teens as both drivers and passengers," said Nathaniel Briggs, MD, MSc, lead researcher on the study, published in the September 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.