Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Theses that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Civil Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



safety belts, seat belts, transportation, traffic study


Safety belts are the most effective safety device in vehicles in terms of preventing injuries (1). Every year, safety belt usage data across the nation is collected by the individual states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories in a probability-based observational survey. Using this survey, Massachusetts, a secondary seat belt law state, ranked last in safety belt usage in 2008. This percentage was approximately a 2 percent decrease from 2007. This value was not an aberration as within the recent past, Massachusetts, a secondary safety belt law state, has consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the 50 states.

The foremost issue with safety belt usage is the inherent disregard of the safety related benefits for both drivers and passengers, alike. While there is a significant amount of literature documenting the safety related benefits, there is still a need for continued study of the persistent attributes that are associated with those vehicle occupants who make the decision to not buckle up.

The scope of this research encompasses the use of the collected data in the 2009 Massachusetts Safety Belt Usage Observation Study to determine what demographic variables; such as age, gender, race, occupant location, community median income, community population density, community education level, and combined demographics, are at high and low ends of the safety belt usage spectrum. Using this data, along with Massachusetts safety belt usage data from the immediate past observational studies, usage based on these and additional demographic information was quantified and analyzed. An outcome of this research was to identify specific strategies, such as increased education and concentrated enforcement, aimed at increasing safety belt usage amidst those targeted subsections of the population that are not buckling up.


First Advisor

Michael A. Knodler