FINAL REPORT 2004 MISSISSIPPI CHILD RESTRAINT SURVEY

Prepared for:
The Office of Highway Safety, Division of Public Safety Planning, Mississippi Department of Public Safety

November 2004

Prepared By: James W. Landrum, David R. Parrish and Jean Mann 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 over all 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, 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.

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PROJECT METHODOLOGY The current child restraint survey was conducted in 31 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. Sample cities make up 29% the states total population of 2,881,281.

Table 1: Survey Cities, Number of Locations, Number of Observations
Number of Locations 8 8 9 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 8 5 8 8 28 8 2 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 8 10 8 8 8 8 8 259 Total Number Of Observations 244 94 267 182 222 122 142 133 92 260 206 63 87 109 1348 64 30 288 354 200 218 190 264 112 50 327 244 134 152 186 330 6,714 Percent of Total Observations 3.6 1.4 4.0 2.7 3.3 1.8 2.1 2.0 1.4 3.9 3.1 0.9 1.3 1.6 20.1 1.0 0.4 4.3 5.3 3.0 3.2 2.8 3.9 1.7 0.7 4.9 3.6 2.0 2.3 2.8 4.9 100 City Population 18,065 9,810 12,856 13,184 24,207 24,959 14,083 16,753 39,521 17,594 14,649 71,810 46,664 11,562 179,599 18,044 16,938 15,869 13,127 39,559 15,327 17,621 17,443 12,761 25,865 22,824 21,435 22,419 35,297 26,005 12,098 847,948

1.Brandon 2.Brookhaven 3.Canton 4.Cleveland 5.Clinton 6.Columbus 7.Corinth 8.Gautier 9. Greenville 10.Greenwood 11.Grenada 12.Gulfort 13.Hattiesburg 14.Indianola 145Jackson 16.Laurel 17.Long Beach 18.Madison 19.McComb 20.Meridian 21.Moss Point 22.Natchez 23.Ocean Springs 24.Oxford 25.Pascagoula 26.Pearl 27.Ridgeland 28.Starkville 29.Tupelo 30. Vicksburg 31.Yazoo City

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Due to the size of Jackson, data were collected from 28 sites within the city. Although 20 percent of the observations were made in Jackson, the population of Jackson represents over 20 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 vehicle observed. 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

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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.

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DISCUSSION There were children in 4,220 cars observed during the survey period. These cars contained a total of 6,714 children under the age of 5, in 31 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. In general, large shopping malls and discount centers are the locations of lowest child restraint use. Church nurseries appear to be locations of very high child restraint use. Table 2: Child Restraint Use by Type of Location
Not Using 269 99 187 169 86 140 51 255 35 517 83 11 27 2 1931 Using 657 137 369 599 180 362 164 599 59 953 562 55 73 14 4783 Total 926 236 556 768 266 502 215 854 94 1470 645 66 100 16 6714 % Using 71 58 66 78 68 72 76 70 63 65 87 83 73 88 71

Fast Foods Large Shopping Mall Grocery Store Daycare or Child Learning Center Health Department or Human Resources Medical Care Complex or Physician's Office Playground, Park, Museum or Zoo Small Shopping Center or Wal Mart Discount or Dollar Store Street Intersection Church, Church Nursery Service Station Restaurant Bank

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In Table 3, the percentage of drivers using seat belts by gender is presented. Of the drivers observed, 66% of the female drivers were belted while only 61% of the male drivers used their seat belts. Overall, 64% of the adults observed were belted. Interestingly the percentage of drivers belted is almost identical (64% to 63%) to the belt use found in the overall seatbelt surveys in 2004.

Table 3:

Restraint Use of Driver by Gender

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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 74% while children on the front seat were restrained at only a rate of 63%

Table 4:

Child Restraint by Position of Child

Restrained

Not Restrained

Total

Seating Position

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Front Seat

1199

63

697

37

1896

29

Back Seat

3577

74

1231

26

4808

71

Total

4776

71

1928

29

6704

100.0

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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 28% 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 58% of the children on the front seat were restrained when the driver was male, while over 66% 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 9

MALE DRIVERS Using restraint Number 367 Front Seat 1107 Back Seat 1474 Totals FEMALE DRIVERS Using restraint Number Front Seat Back Seat Totals 822 2414 3236 Percent 66 76 73 Not using restraint Number 426 757 1183 Percent 34 24 27 Total Number 1248 3171 4419 Percent 28 72 100.0 68 693 32 2167 100.0 72 436 28 1543 68 Percent 58 Not using restraint Number 257 Percent 42 Total Number 624 Percent 32

CONCLUSIONS Child Restraint Use in Mississippi was found to be 71% for the year 2004. This is almost identical to the rate found in 2001 and 2002, and 2003, showing that child restraint usage is being sustained. In short, the effort toward increasing and improving child restraint use has been both extensive and intensive.

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