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Young Men Are Least Likely to Use Seat Belts, but Almost 90 Percent of American Adults Wear Them Regularly

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Press Release Date: December 22, 2004

Men between the ages of 19 and 29 are the group least likely to wear a seat belt while driving or riding in a car and are three times as likely not to use their seat belt as women of the same age, according to a new data analysis from HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The data, from AHRQ's 2002 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, show that 88 percent of people between 16 and 64 years of age were reported to always or nearly always use seat belts. This number is close to the goal set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to increase national seat belt use to 90 percent by the year 2005. Healthy People 2010 set a goal of 92 percent use of seat belts by 2010. However, a little more than 5 percent of people ages 16 to 64 never or seldom use their seat belt, and another 7 percent use their seat belts only sometimes.

Other data about the people who never or seldom use their seat belts:

  • Non-students ages 19 to 21 are four times as likely not to use their seat belts as students of the same age (12 percent compared with 3 percent).
  • People with only high school education were twice as likely not to wear their seat belts as those with some additional education (almost 8 percent compared with almost 4 percent).
  • People living in non-metropolitan areas were more than twice as likely not to wear their seat belts as people living in large metropolitan areas (about 9 percent versus 4 percent).

In addition, of all people ages 16 to 64, those ages 16 to 18 were the group least likely to drive or ride in a car without their seat belt. Only about 3 percent of girls and 4 percent of boys were reported to have never used their seat belt.

Details are in Statistical Brief #62: Characteristics of Persons Who Seldom or Never Wear Seat Belts, 2002, found on the Web at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/st62/stat62.pdf (PDF Help).

MEPS collects information each year from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households about health care use, expenses, access, health status, and quality. MEPS is a unique government survey because of the degree of detail in its data, as well as its ability to link data on health services spending and health insurance to demographic, employment, economic, health status, and other characteristics of individuals and families. General information about MEPS is available at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855 or (301) 427-1858.


 

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