Special Report 278

BUCKLING UP

Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use

Committee for the Safety Belt Technology Study

TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Transportation Research Board

Washington, D.C.

2003

www.TRB.org



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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use Special Report 278 BUCKLING UP Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use Committee for the Safety Belt Technology Study TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C. 2003 www.TRB.org

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use Transportation Research Board Special Report 278 Subscriber Category IVB safety and human performance Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax ; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Buckling up : technologies to increase seat belt use / Committee for the Safety Belt Technology Study, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. p.cm.—(Special report / Transportation Research Board ; 278) ISBN 0-309-08593-4 1. Automobiles—Seat belts. 2. Automobiles—Seat belts—Technological innovations. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for the Safety Belt Technology Study. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 278. HE5620.S34B836 2003 363.12′572—dc22 2003066338

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research. In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, the Board facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use COMMITTEE FOR THE SAFETY BELT TECHNOLOGY STUDY William C. Howell, Chair, Arizona State University, Gold Canyon David A. Champion, Consumers Union, East Haddam, Connecticut Patricia R. DeLucia, Texas Tech University, Lubbock T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, AAA National Office, Washington, D.C. Michael M. Finkelstein, Michael Finkelstein & Associates, Bethesda, Maryland Philip W. Haseltine, Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, Inc., Arlington, Virginia Peter D. Loeb, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey Donald W. Reinfurt, University of North Carolina (retired), Chapel Hill Judith M. Tanur, State University of New York at Stony Brook David C. Viano, ProBiomechanics, LLC, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Allan F. Williams, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, Virginia Johanna P. Zmud, NuStats Partners, LP, Austin, Texas Transportation Research Board Staff Nancy P. Humphrey, Study Director

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use PREFACE Increasing seat belt use is one of the most effective and least costly ways of reducing the lives lost and injuries incurred on the nation’s highways each year, yet about one in four drivers and front-seat passengers continues to ride unbuckled. Congress requested this study to examine the potential of in-vehicle technologies to increase belt use. In response to this request, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) formed a panel of 12 experts chaired by William C. Howell, Adjunct Professor at Arizona State and Rice Universities. Panel members have expertise in the areas of automotive engineering, design, and regulation; traffic safety and injury prevention; human factors; survey research methods; economics; and technology education and consumer interest. The panel is aware of the breadth of approaches that have been introduced over the years by the federal government, states, safety groups, and the private sector to increase seat belt use and vehicle occupant safety more generally. Strategies have included efforts to educate the public about the benefits of seat belts; technological approaches that attempted to force motorists to buckle up (such as ignition interlocks that prevented cars from starting unless front-seat occupants were belted); the provision of automatic protection (through automatic belts and supplemental protection through air bags); and enactment of state seat belt use laws and targeted enforcement programs requiring motorists to buckle up. Other approaches have focused on improving seat belt design and comfort to encourage belt wearing. This report does not attempt to address these important topics in any depth, although it does include discussion of those relating directly to the congressional charge. For example, the report touches on the temporary federal requirement for vehicle ignition interlocks as well as on strategies of the states to increase the wearing of safety belts through laws mandating their use. The national experience with air bags—both those required by regulation and those available as consumer options—is not addressed. The committee views air bags and seat belts as complementary strategies to improve occupant safety. The regulations governing air bags, their effectiveness alone and in combination with belts, and the controversies

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use surrounding their introduction and subsequent revisions in the regulations governing their use, however, go well beyond the scope of this committee’s charge to concentrate on emerging technologies, such as belt reminder systems, that offer potential for further gains in seat belt use. As an important input to the study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—the study sponsor—funded and conducted interviews and focus groups of samples of different belt user groups to learn more about the potential effectiveness and acceptability of technologies ranging from seat belt reminder systems to more aggressive interlock systems that prevent putting the vehicle in gear unless the driver and front-seat passengers are buckled up. In particular, the committee thanks Roger Saul, Nathaniel Beuse, and Richard Compton of NHTSA; Roger Kurrus, a consultant previously with NHTSA; and Jonathan Bentley of Equals Three Communications for providing timely and useful empirical results to enhance the data available to the committee. The committee also supplemented its expertise by holding its second meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, where it met in proprietary sessions with several of the major automobile manufacturers, a key supplier, and a small business inventor of a shifter interlock system to learn of planned new seat belt use technologies as well as about company data concerning their effectiveness and acceptability. The committee thanks Scott Schmidt of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Michael Cammisa of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, and George Kirchoff of the Automotive Occupant Restraints Council for helping organize the meeting. It also thanks the following individuals for their briefings: Robert Lange, James Khoury, Patricia Featherstone, Joseph Fitzsimmons, and Stephen Gehring of General Motors Corporation; Michael Berube, Barry Felrice, Kristen Kreibich-Staruch, Randy Edwards, and Dirk Ockel of DaimlerChrysler; Chris Tinto, Christina Mullen, and Ted Koase of Toyota Motor Corporation; James Boland, Peter Ducharme, Thomas Falahee, Scott Gaboury, David Kizyma, and James Vondale of Ford Motor Company; Ingrid Skogsmo of Volvo; Orlando Robinson and Joseph Price of D&D Innovations, Inc.; Wendell Lane and Michael Moore of Breed Technologies, Inc.; and Aki Yasuoka

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use of Honda and Frank Kiiskila of Autoliv, who provided written responses to the committee’s questions following the meeting. The committee thanks the Chief Counsel of NHTSA, Jacqueline Glassman, who provided the agency’s current interpretation of the regulations concerning seat belt use technologies at the committee’s third meeting, and Rebecca MacPherson, Senior Counsel at NHTSA, who prepared the supporting documentary materials. Finally, the committee acknowledges Anders Lie of the Swedish National Road Administration, who provided valuable information on EuroNCAP policies related to belt reminder systems, and Paul Schockmel of International Electronics Engineering, a major manufacturer of sensor systems, for his information on automotive applications. The report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the authors and NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee thanks the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Paul Green, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Henry Jasny, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Washington, D.C.; Craig Newgard, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland; James Nichols, NHTSA (retired), Vienna, Virginia; David F. Preusser, Preusser Research Group, Inc., Trumbull, Connecticut; Kenneth Stack, General Motors Corporation (retired), Stanwood, Michigan; and Cheryl Stecher, Franklin Hill Group, Santa Monica, California. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the committee’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Elsa Garmire, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Nancy P. Humphrey managed the study and drafted major sections of the final report under the guidance of the committee and the supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of Studies and Information Services. Michelle M. Crowder drafted sections of Chapter 2 of the report, which summarize what is known about the characteristics of those who do not wear seat belts and the potential effectiveness of technologies that could influence their propensity to buckle up. Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. Special appreciation is expressed to Norman Solomon, who edited the report under the supervision of Nancy A. Ackerman, Director of Publications. Amelia Mathis assisted with meeting arrangements and communications with committee members.

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Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt Use CONTENTS     Executive Summary   1 1   Introduction   17      Seat Belt Effectiveness   18      Study Context   20      Technology Revisited   22      Key Study Issues, Definition of Terms, and Approach   24      Organization of Report   26 2   Seat Belt Use and Characteristics of Nonusers   29      Overview of Seat Belt Use in the United States   29      Characteristics of Nonusers   32      Potential Effects of Seat Belt Use Technologies on Different Nonuser Groups   39 3   Historical Experience with Seat Belt Use Technologies   42      Early Seat Belt Use Technologies   42      Studies of the Effectiveness and Acceptability of Early Seat Belt Use Technologies   43      Other Approaches for Encouraging Seat Belt Use   46      Implications for New Technology Introduction   50 4   Current Experience with Seat Belt Use Technologies   53      Characteristics of New Seat Belt Use Technologies   53      Evidence of Effectiveness and Acceptability of New Seat Belt Use Technologies   60      Summary of the State of Knowledge   74 5   A Strategy for Increasing Seat Belt Use Through Technology   79      NHTSA’s Interpretation of Current Statutory Constraints   79      Perspective of the Automobile Manufacturers   82      Findings   84      Recommended Strategy   87      Proposed Research Program   90      Benefits of Proposed Strategy   92 Appendix A   Congressional Request for Seat Belt Use Technology Study   94 Appendix B   Analysis of Ratings from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration In-Depth Interviews and Focus Groups   95     Study Committee Biographical Information   98

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