Seatbelt use to save money: Impact on hospital costs of occupants who are involved in motor vehicle crashes

Int Emerg Nurs. 2017 Mar:31:2-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2016.04.004. Epub 2016 May 10.


Objective: Seatbelt use is the single most effective way to save lives in motor vehicle crashes (MVC). However, although safety belt laws have been enacted in many countries, seatbelt usage throughout the world remains below optimal levels, and educational interventions may be needed to further increase seatbelt use. In addition to reducing crash-related injuries and deaths, reduced medical expenditures resulting from seatbelt use are an additional benefit that could make such interventions cost-effective. Accordingly, the objective of this study was to estimate the correlation between seatbelt use and hospital costs of injuries involved in MVC.

Methods: The data used in this study were from the Nebraska CODES database for motor vehicle crashes that occurred between 2004 and 2013. The hospital cost information and information about other factors were obtained by linking crash reports with hospital discharge data. A multivariable regression model was performed for the association between seatbelt use and hospital costs.

Results: Mean hospital costs were significantly lower among motor vehicle occupants using a lap-shoulder seatbelt ($2909), lap-only seatbelt ($2289), children's seatbelt ($1132), or booster ($1473) when compared with those not using any type of seatbelt ($7099). After adjusting for relevant factors, there were still significantly decreased hospital costs for motor vehicle occupants using a lap-shoulder seatbelt (84.7%), lap-only seatbelt (74.1%), shoulder-only seatbelt (40.6%), children's seatbelt (95.9%), or booster (82.8%) compared to those not using a seatbelt.

Conclusion: Seatbelt use is significantly associated with reduced hospital costs among injured MVC occupants. The findings in this study will provide important educational information for emergency department nurses who can encourage safety belt use for vehicle occupants.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption; Gender; Hospital costs; Motor vehicle crashes; Occupant; Seatbelt.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / economics*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / methods*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs / standards
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles / economics
  • Motor Vehicles / statistics & numerical data
  • Nebraska
  • Seat Belts / economics*
  • Seat Belts / statistics & numerical data*