THE USE OF ECONOMIC INCENTIVES AND PUBLIC EDUCATION TO INCREASE SEAT BELT USE IN A COMMUNITY - FINAL REPORT

In view of previous research which has demonstrated the effectiveness of economic incentives in increasing belt use, HSRC designed a campaign centered around the idea of giving out incentives for belt wearing. This was done in conjunction with an extensive public education effort. The six-month incentive effort covered the communities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina, and was entitled "Seat Belts Pay Off." The title reflected both the educational and economic themes. The approach was to stop vehicles at random and to give all belted vehicle occupants a small prize (and a chance for a large cash prize). The rationale was that cash or prize incentives, in combination with extensive public education, would more effectively induce belt wearing than the latter alone. This is because the prizes would service as a reinforcement or reward for belt wearers, and serve as an incentive to buckle up for those who might know of the contest but had not been stopped. This approach was designed to make people think about buckling up often enough to encourage a regular belt use habit to develop. The authors believe it is feasible to administer incentive programs to increase seat belt use, and that these programs can vary greatly in scope, target audience and procedure, and still be successful. However, some limitations should be considered. In order for a community wide program to be successful, enough incentives must be available, in some reasonable combination of number and magnitude, such as to create the perception of a reasonable chance of winning. Project "visibility" must be high enough to keep people thinking about the effort. Project publicity must be extensive. This points to the use of a variety of media, as well as interpersonal "networking" to "get the word out" to all segments of the community. In order for belt use to become habitual, continuous reminders and reinforcement need to be present. Thus, those planning a project of this nature need to assess the target population in question (including size, sub-groups, etc). Once the community makeup has been determined, one can assess the chances of obtaining the necessary publicity and incentives in light of the size and heterogeneity of that target population. To that end, perhaps the best recommendation would be to seek the heavy involvement of a media group. As in the case of this project, this can help immeasurably in obtaining incentives and giving the project intensive publicity. The present scheme seemed to work rather well in a community of 50,000, but a different scale of operation might be necessary in a larger urban area. (Author)

  • Corporate Authors:

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Highway Safety Research Center
    Chapel Hill, NC  USA  27599

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    Office of Occupant Protection, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    Office of the Secretary of Transportation

    Technology Sharing Program, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590
  • Authors:
    • Campbell, B J
    • Hunter, W W
    • Gemming, M G
    • Steward, J R
  • Publication Date: 1984-3

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: v.p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00453662
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT-I-85-39, HS-042 413
  • Files: HSL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 31 1986 12:00AM