Background: The use of safety belts is the single most effective means of reducing fatal and nonfatal injuries in motor vehicle crashes. If all motor vehicle occupants consistently wore safety belts, an estimated 9553 deaths would have been prevented in 1999 alone.
Methods: The Guide to Community Preventive Services's methods for systematic reviews were used to evaluate the effectiveness of three interventions to increase safety belt use. Effectiveness was assessed on the basis of changes in safety belt use and number of crash-related injuries.
Results: Strong evidence was found for the effectiveness of safety belt laws in general and for the incremental effectiveness of primary safety belt laws relative to secondary laws. Strong evidence for the effectiveness of enhanced enforcement programs for safety belt laws was also found. Additional information is provided about the applicability, other effects, and barriers to implementation of these interventions.
Conclusions: These reviews form the basis of the recommendations by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services presented elsewhere in this supplement. They can help decision makers identify and implement effective interventions that fit within an overall strategy to increase safety belt use.