Key research findings

  • Publicity/enforcement campaigns in North Carolina designed to increase compliance with GDL restrictions have had little effect on seat belt use.3 However, it has been reported that teen passenger seat belt use was higher in secondary enforcement states that had a primary enforcement provision for youth compared with secondary states without this provision, providing some support for this policy.4
  • Evaluations in Tennessee and Wisconsin, two states with seat belt use requirements in GDL laws, found little, if any, effect on teen driver belt use.5
  • A North Carolina survey6 suggests that such negative findings may arise from a lack of awareness about the seat belt use requirements – only 3% of teens and 5% of parents were aware of the special GDL provision concerning seat belts.
  • Restraint use rates overall, not just for teen drivers, increase with well-publicized high visibility enforcement of strong occupant restraint use laws. Studies have concluded that this three-pronged strategy – laws, enforcement, and publicity – cannot be separated: effectiveness decreases if any one of the components is weak or missing.7

3Goodwin et al. 2006; Goodwin and Foss 2008

4R. Shults, personal communication 2014

5Freedman and Levi, 2008; Goodwin et al., 2016

6Goodwin and Foss, 2004

7Nichols and Ledingham, 2008; Tison and Williams, 2010; Goodwin et al., 2016