OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of the North Carolina law mandating that all front seat passengers use a safety belt on children 4 through 15 years of age. METHODS: North Carolina collision reports, completed by local police or the state highway patrol for crashes with greater than $500 worth of damage, were analyzed using time series analysis on the monthly percentage of deaths and serious injuries between January of 1980 and February of 1994. RESULTS: Following the 1985 implementation of the law, children 4 to 15 years of age experienced a 42% decline in deaths and serious injuries. CONCLUSIONS: The mandatory safety belt law in North Carolina has been associated with a decline in deaths and serious injuries. Additional research in needed to assess the seat belt behaviors of this age group as well as the specific effects of seat belt use using outcome measures more precise than those available in police crash reports.
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