From the review of literature it is widely accepted that the use of a seat belt reduces the risk of death in road traffic by up to 65% and the use of reflectors reduces pedestrian accidents and death by 75%–85%. Careless behaviour on roads can increase the risk of a crash and serious injury. As smoking has been linked to risky behaviour, the aim of the study was to examine the relationship between self-reported smoking and road safety behaviour in Latvia.
Methods The data of ‘Health behaviour among the Latvian adult population’ for four consecutive surveys for the years 2010–2016 were selected for analysis. T-test and logistic regression analyses were conducted to compare the unsafe behaviour of road users with others in terms of sociodemographic, health-related and behavioural outcomes.
Results 85.0% (95% CI: 84.4% to 85.6%) of 12 619 respondents used a seat belt in the front seat and 45.3% (95% CI: 44.4% to 46.1%) in the back seat; the overall use of reflectors was 44.3% (95% CI: 43.4% to 45.1%). 33.2% of respondents reported that they smoked every day; 66.5% of them placed no smoking restrictions in their car. Worse road safety behaviour was attributed to men, 15–24 (p<0.0001). After taking into account the effects of age and gender, individuals, who smoked every day were more likely to report that they never wore a seat belt in the front seat (OR=1.5; 95% CI: 1.1 to 2.2) or in the back seat (OR=1.2; 95% CI: 1.1 to 1.3) compared to non-smokers.
The study indicates that not using seat belts can be consistent with other risk-taking behaviour such us smoking. Standard policies and campaigns may not be effective for individuals who do not use seat belts and a targeted approach may be more effective. Campaigns for using seat belts could be combined with anti-smoking campaigns.
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