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Traffic Tech: Evaluation of Maryland's Nighttime Seat Belt Demonstration Program
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  • Alternative Title:
    Evaluation of Maryland's Nighttime Seat Belt Demonstration Program
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  • Abstract:
    About half of all traffic fatalities occur at night, although only about one quarter of travel occurs after dark. Lower rates of seat belt use at night may be a factor. In terms of crash history, evidence suggests that unbelted drivers are more likely to be on the road at night, to drive after drinking, and to be worse drivers than those who wear seat belts. NHTSA and the Maryland Highway Safety Office jointly conducted and evaluated the effectiveness of a high-visibility nighttime seat belt enforcement program. Evaluation measures included pre- and post-intervention changes in observed daytime and nighttime seat belt use, driver awareness of the nighttime enforcement effort, and changes in nighttime injuries and fatalities. In addition, the project aimed to assess characteristics of high-risk drivers by examining the driver records of motorists who received seat belt citations over the course of the project. The program followed the basic Click It or Ticket (CIOT) model - high-visibility enforcement (HVE) combined with paid and earned media. The HVE deployments featured "channelization" and spotter strategies with a lesser focus on saturation patrols. The emphasis occurred at night to address nighttime crash problems. Eight law enforcement agencies covering six counties in the Baltimore-Washington corridor participated. A comparison area was designated on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Five waves of activity were conducted from May 2011 to November 2013. The primary message of the ad campaign was that "Cops are cracking down on seat belt violations, especially at night." A total of 5,683 seat belt citations were issued during the five activity waves.
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