WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report says that children aren’t likely to assume that if they don’t have to wear a seat belt in a school bus, they don’t have to wear one in a personal vehicle.
The paper, developed by research psychologists in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Behavioral Safety Research, focuses on children ages 5 to 10.
The authors, Dr. Dereece Smither and Dr. Jenny Percer, write that theories on human learning and cognition suggest that vehicles with different restraint systems are not confusing to most children.
“Human learning is often constrained to the situation in which it is learned, resulting in very little transfer across situations,” Smither and Percer write. “Thus, information that is learned in one context, the school bus, has very little chance of transferring to another context, the personal vehicle.”
Parents play a significant role in shaping children’s behavior and ultimately have control over children’s seat belt use in personal vehicles, according to the authors. Parents model seat belt usage, they teach children what is right and wrong, and they can provide positive reinforcement to their children when they correctly use seat belts.
To read the full report, click here.