Seat belt use by police: Should they click it?

Dietrich Von Kuenssberg Jehle, David G. Wagner, James Mayrose, Usman Hashmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of mortality in the United States, although seat belts significantly reduce the risk of death. Police officers do not always wear a seat belt. A retrospective study was conducted on all crashes that involved marked police vehicles in the United States and included a death in any of the involved vehicles. Methods: For the years 1997 through 2001, crash data were collected and analyzed from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System that included an isolated or multiple vehicle crash with a marked police vehicle and a resulting death in any of the involved vehicles. Motorcycle, aircraft, and undercover police crashes were excluded from this study. Only the occupants of the police vehicle involved in the crash were included in the study. In addition, crashes involving police vehicles where the status of seat belt use by the occupants of the police vehicle was unknown were also excluded. Results: When the crashes occurred, 59.9% of the officers were responding to nonemergency calls, 79.8% of the occupants were wearing their seat belts, and 79.5% survived. Of the 104 occupants that were not belted, 42 (40.4%) died in the crash, compared with 64 (15.5%) of the 412 belted occupants (risk ratio, 2.6; odds ratio, 3.7). Conclusion: The risk of death was 2.6 times higher for unbelted occupants of police vehicles than for belted occupants in our study population. In addition, seat belt use was not statistically related to emergency versus nonemergency calls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-120
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatality Analysis Reporting System (PARS)
  • Motor vehicle crash (MVC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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