Injury Research and Policy Impact of Safety Belt Law :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Oh

The Impact of a Standard Enforcement Safety Belt Law on Fatalities and Hospital Charges in Ohio: An Analysis Using 2003 Ohio CODES Data

Increasing safety belt use in Ohio would substantially lower deaths, injuries and medical costs due to motor vehicle crashes in our state.

  • NHTSA estimates that 3-point safety belts are 45-60% effective in preventing fatalities and 50-65% effective in preventing moderate-to-critical injuries in frontal collisions
  • According to a 1995 NHTSA study, states with standard (or primary) enforcement safety belt laws achieve significantly higher belt use than states with only secondary enforcement laws

In 2006, Ohio's observed safety belt usage rate was 82%. Based on the experiences of other states, it is estimated that by upgrading Ohio's safety belt law to standard enforcement in 2007, the safety belt use rate in Ohio would increase 10 percentage points, from 82% to 92%. Using this estimation, we conducted a comprehensive statistical analysis to determine the effect that enactment of a standard enforcement safety belt law in Ohio would have on hospital charges and direct medical costs due to motor vehicle crashes in Ohio, focusing on the impact to the state's Medicaid system. Due to limitations in the available data sets, our projections can be considered underestimates.

Injuries prevented in the first year following adoption of a standard enforcement safety belt law in Ohio would save Medicaid $15.4 million over 10 years
Cumulative savings to Medicaid would total $91.2 million by 2016
At a minimum, 18 fatalities would be prevented in 2007 alone

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