NHTSA: Not buckling up in bus unlikely to carry over

Posted on November 11, 2009

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.


Related Topics: seat belts

Comments ( 2 )
  •  | about 8 years ago

    (Continuation of previous post - I must have exceeded the number of characters allowed) and their seat-mates were ejected and killed. Did you know that seat belts (15,000) and air bags (3,000) save 18,000 lives a year in motor vehicles? If we can put a dent in the number of children who fail to develop life-long seatbelt use habits or save one of our bus riders from ejection and death, isn’t it worth it to use an instructional tool, that while not perfect, does seem heaven-sent by the parents of the child who walks off the bus uninjured while other parents are consumed by grief. Imagine the gratefulness of both parent and child when a parent has buckled up because of a child’s nagging and then walked away from what, unbelted, would have been a fatal crash. I believe we should keep our schools open despite their inadequacies at teaching about the real world, and we should take every opportunity to teach children about motor vehicle safety while we have that opportunity, because for better or for worse, the message we send by saying seat belts are superfluous has no positive influence on overall seat belt use. While seat belt use is overall on the rise, 2006 figures indicate that 5 states are still below 70% use and over 15 states showed a % drop from 2005 data. This is not a problem that is solved, 5,541 lives could have been saved in 2006 if seat belt and car seat use was 100%. If we can do anything to reduce that number, I believe it is our duty, both as citizens and safety professionals.

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