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Use of Safety Belts: Laws Mandating Use

Safety belt laws mandate the use of safety belts by motor vehicle occupants. All current U.S. laws cover front seat occupants. Other requirements, such as rear seat coverage, fines, affected age groups, type of enforcement, and exempted vehicles and drivers vary by state.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force  recommends safety belt laws as a strategy based on strong evidence of their effectiveness in increasing safety belt use and reducing fatal and non-fatal injuries among adolescents and adults.

Task Force Finding

Results from the Systematic Review

Thirty-three studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Fatal injuries: median decrease of 9% (interquartile interval: 2% to 18% decrease; 6 studies)
  • Nonfatal injuries: median decrease of 2% (interquartile interval: 15% decrease to 11% increase; 6 studies)
  • Fatal and nonfatal injuries combined: median decrease of 8% (interquartile interval: 3% to 20% decrease; 9 studies)
  • Observed safety belt use: median increase of 33 percentage points (interquartile interval: 20 to 36 percentage points; 10 studies)
  • Police-reported safety belt use: increase of 26 percentage points (2 studies)
  • Self-reported safety belt use: median increase of 16 percentage points (interquartile interval: 13 to 19 percentage points; 4 studies)

These results are based on a systematic review of all available studies led by scientists from CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention with input from a team of specialists in systematic review methods and experts in research, practice and policy related to increasing safety belt use.

Supporting Materials


Dinh-Zarr TB, Sleet DA, Shults RA, et al. Reviews of evidence regarding interventions to increase the use of safety belts. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 2.85 MB] Am J Prev Med 2001;21(4S): 48-65.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations to reduce injuries to motor vehicle occupants: increasing child safety seat use, increasing safety belt use, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 78 kB] Am J Prev Med 2001;21(4S):16–22.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor-vehicle occupant injury: strategies for increasing use of child safety seats, increasing use of safety belts, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. MMWR Recommendations and Reports 2001;50(RR07):1-13. External Web Site Icon

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor vehicle occupant injury. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 355 kB] In : Zaza S, Briss PA, Harris KW, eds. The Guide to Community Preventive Services: What Works to Promote Health? Atlanta (GA): Oxford University Press;2005:329-84.

Read other Community Guide publications about Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention in our library.

*PDF includes all of the information available and will not be updated.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Use of safety belts: laws mandating use Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: October 2000