Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #4)

RAAPS Question #4 Seat Belt Use

Motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of unintentional death among adolescents of all ages – more than alcohol, drugs, and suicide combined.

  • Among adolescents ages 10-14 motor vehicle accidents account for 22% of all deaths
  • Among adolescents ages 15-17 years motor vehicle accidents account for 37.8% of all deaths
  • Among fatal motor vehicle crashes, 62% of the occupants were 16-24 year olds who were not wearing seat belts.

Teens are at risk because they are more likely to drive aggressively, not wear seat belts, and underestimate dangers associated with hazardous driving situations. Several disparities exist among gender and ethnicity groups. Adolescent males are twice as likely as females to die from a motor vehicle crash. Further, non Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native males have the highest mortality rates resulting from motor vehicle crashes (71.6/100,000), followed by Non-Hispanic Black males (23.6/100,000), and Asian males (15.7/100,000). In a study that polled 9-12th graders, 11.1% indicate that they never or rarely wear a seatbelt. In RAAPS survey data of 10,000+ teens, 19.8% reported that they do not always wear a seat belt when riding in a car, van or truck. Assessing seat belt use (in both the front and back seats) and providing effective counseling for use is critical if we are going to impact adolescent mobidity and mortality rates.