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Prepared for:
The Office of Highway Safety, Division of Public Safety Planning, Mississippi Department of Public Safety December 2003 Prepared By: James W. Landrum and David R. Parrish Social Science Research Center Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS 39762

INTRODUCTION Highway safety continues to be a major health problem for children in Mississippi. The key factor in the number of death and crippling injuries for Mississippi’s children is not dues to measles. BACKGROUND Each year citizens, governmental agencies and private advocacy groups participate in a major effort to combat this needless death and injury to our children. Tickets are written to those who violate the child restraint law. Large numbers of child restraint clinics staffed by highly trained child restraint technicians are provided at no cost to the public. A sizable amount of time, effort and money are devoted to increasing child restraint use. These efforts included media campaigns, brochures, programs, providing free child restraint seats to those who cannot afford them etc. In order to help evaluate the effect of these programs, child restraint surveys are conducted in cities in every geographical area of Mississippi. The surveys are not truly scientific, but do provide an overall raw analysis on child restraint use in Mississippi. Since these surveys are only observational they do not provide a measure of the proper use of child restraints, except in a very general way, i.e., incorrectly placing children in rear facing seats on the front seat in front of airbags. These efforts have had gratifying results in that child restraint use in Mississippi has continued to rise over time. However, in comparison to other states, child restraint use in Mississippi continues to be low and proper restraint use even lower.


PROJECT METHODOLOGY The current child restraint survey was conducted in 30 Mississippi municipalities at 269 observation sites covering every region in the state of Mississippi. Table 1 provides a list of the sample cities, the number of unique locations, the total number of observations, percent of observations with regard to the total number of observations and the populations of the various cities. Table 1: Survey Cities, Number of Locations, Number of Observations Percent Number Total Number of of Of Total Observations Locations Observations 1.Brandon 8 246 3.7 2.Brookhaven 8 113 1.7 3.Canton 8 262 4.0 4.Cleveland 6 140 2.1 5.Clinton 8 203 3.1 6.Columbus 8 165 2.5 7.Corinth 8 141 2.1 8.Gautier 8 188 2.9 9.Greenwood 6 150 2.3 10.Grenada 8 180 2.7 11.Hattiesburg 8 139 2.1 12.Indianola 8 108 1.6 13.Jackson 28 1274 19.4 14.Laurel 8 74 1.1 15.Madison 8 263 4.0 16.McComb 8 210 3.2 17.Meridian 8 177 2.7 18.Moss Point 8 80 1.2 19.Natchez 8 219 3.3 20.Ocean Springs 8 221 3.4 21.Oxford 7 106 1.6 22.Pascagoula 8 151 2.3 23.Pearl 10 386 5.9 24.Picayune 8 136 2.1 25.Ridgeland 8 266 4.0 26.Southaven 8 184 2.8 27.Starkville 8 178 2.7 28.Tupelo 8 299 4.5 29. Vicksburg 12 67 1.0 30.Yazoo City 8 247 4.0 261 6,573 100.0

City Population 16,436 9,861 12,911 13,841 23,347 25,944 14,504 11,681 18,425 14,879 44,779 12,066 184,256 18,393 14,692 13,337 39,968 15,851 18,464 17,225 11,756 26,200 21,961 10,535 20,173 28,977 21,869 34,211 26,407 14,550 757499

Due to the size of Jackson, data were collected from 28 sites within the city. Although 19.4 percent of the observations were made in Jackson, the population of Jackson represents over 24 percent of the populations of the sample cities. Using the population figures in the 2000 census, 29 of 37 cities with at least a population of 10,000 persons were included in the survey. One city, Brookhaven, had a population of less than 10,000. Brookhaven’s population dropped from over 10,000 in the 1990 census to slightly under 10,000 in the 2000 census. Sample cities are located in every geographical area of the State of Mississippi. An attempt was made to select sites in each city that would provide a cross sample of the population. A systematic sample was selected by obtaining sites from four different types of locations: (1) a day care or


controlled intersection with a signal light; (2) county or city health departments, welfare, or social service offices; (3) hospitals or pediatric offices; (4) shopping centers and fast food establishments. Where it was feasible, local observers were utilized because they were familiar with the diversity of people in the area and could determine the most appropriate site locations. Previous observers were employed when available to promote consistency. Additional information was collected for each car. These data were the driver’s gender, the time of day, the day of week, the weather during the time period of the observation, and whether or not the driver was wearing a seat belt. Each surveyor was given a checklist for making observations. Locations were observed for 40-minute periods and surveyors were instructed to skip cars when they were unsure of the observation. The following instructors were given to the surveyors: (1) record the use of vehicles only with children as passengers; (2) observe all children under the age of five. Devices designed to be rear facing are recorded as infant seats. Devices designed to be forward facing devices are recorded as toddler seats. (3) Correct use of an infant restraint is determined if the seat installed facing the rear of the vehicle, along with proper use of the harness system and a compatible vehicular restraint system. (4) Correct use of a toddler seat is determined if a harness and/or shield apparatus in the forward facing position protected the toddler. (5) Proper booster seat use is determined when the vehicular restraint system was correct for the size of the child.


DISCUSSION There were children in 4,348 cars observed during the survey period. These cars contained a total of 6,573 children under the age of 5, in 30 municipalities. In Table 2, information is provided on the type of location, the number of children observed and whether they were restrained. It should be noted that none of the locations are definitive of that type of location, but only provide some indication of the level of use.

Table 2: Child Restraint Use by Type of Location Not Using Fast Foods Large Shopping Mall Grocery Store Daycare or Child Learning Center Health Department or Human Resources Medical Care Complex or Physicians Office Playground, Park, Museum or Zoo Small Shopping Center or Wal Mart Discount or Dollar Store Street Intersection Church, Church Nursery Service Station Restaurant 216 111 140 143 120 128 52 312 27 623 84 21 18 1,995 Using 512 174 368 449 163 254 220 663 27 1103 556 19 70 4,578 Total 728 285 508 592 283 382 272 975 54 1726 640 40 88 6,573 % Using 70.3 61.1 72.4 75.8 57.6 66.5 80.9 68 50 63.9 86.9 47.5 79.5 69.6


In Table 3, the percentage of drivers using seat belts by gender is presented. Of the drivers observed, 67% of the female drivers were belted while only 57% of the male drivers used their seat belts. Overall, 63% of the adults observed were belted. Table 3: Restraint Use of Driver by Gender
Sex of Driver * Is Driver Belted? Crosstabulation Is Driver Belted? Yes Sex of Driver Female Count % within Sex of Driver % within Is Driver Belted? % of Total Male Count % within Sex of Driver % within Is Driver Belted? % of Total Total Count % within Sex of Driver % within Is Driver Belted? % of Total 1965 66.6% 71.3% 45.2% 790 56.5% 28.7% 18.2% 2755 63.4% 100.0% 63.4% No 985 33.4% 61.8% 22.7% 608 43.5% 38.2% 14.0% 1593 36.6% 100.0% 36.6% Total 2950 100.0% 67.8% 67.8% 1398 100.0% 32.2% 32.2% 4348 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

CHILD RESTRAINT USE BY SEATING POSITION OF CHILD It is known that the safest place for a child to be restrained, or for that matter to ride unrestrained, is on the back seat of a car. It would therefore be expected that adults putting children in the back seat of a car would also have more awareness of the importance of using child restraints. The seating position, as well as whether the child was restrained, was recorded in the present survey. As expected children on the back seat of automobiles were restrained at a higher rate than were those on the front seat. Children in the back seat were restrained at a rate of 72.4% while children on the front seat were restrained at only a rate of 60.9%

Table 4:

Child Restraint by Position of Child Restrained Not Restrained Percent 63 73 70 Number 699 1283 1982 Percent 37 27 30 Total Number 1885 4673 6,558 Percent 29 71 100.0

Seating Position Front Seat Back Seat Total

Number 1186 3390 4,576


Male drivers were slightly more likely to place a child on the front seat than were female drivers. Children in cars driven by male drivers were placed on the front seat of the car 32 % of the time as compared to 27% when the driver of the vehicle was female. However, female drivers who placed their children on the front seat were much more likely to use child restraints than were male drives with children on the front seat. Only 54% of the children on the front seat were restrained when the driver was male, while over 64% of the children in cars driven by females were restrained. Children placed on the front seat were much more likely to be unrestrained regardless of the sex of the driver. Interestingly, male and female drivers choosing to place their children on the back seat were fairly comparable in restraining the children. Children placed on the back seat were restrained a much higher percentage of time than were those whose driver placed them on the back seat, regardless of the gender of the driver. Obviously educational efforts directed at placing children on back seat have had some effect. These findings are presented in Table 5. Table 5: Use of Child Restraints by Position of Child by Gender of Driver

MALE DRIVERS Using restraint Number 367 Front Seat 999 Back Seat 1,366 Totals FEMALE DRIVERS 65 745 35 2111 100.0 69 442 31 1441 68 Percent 55 Not using restraint Number 316303 Percent 45 Total Number 670 Percent 32

Using restraint Number Front Seat Back Seat Totals 819 2391 3210 Percent 67 74 72

Not using restraint Number 395 840 1235 Percent 33 26 28

Total Number 1214 3231 4445 Percent 27 73 100.0

CONCLUSIONS Child Restraint Use in Mississippi was found to be 70% for the year 2003. This is almost identical to the rate found in 2001 and 2002, showing that child restraint usage is being sustained. Over time, the effort toward increasing and improving child restraint use has been both extensive and intensive. There is also little doubt that having a primary child restraint law has made a significant impact on the increase of the use of child restraints in Mississippi. The next challenge is to raise child restraint usage to an even higher level.