The Alabama State Department of Education and the Governor's Study Group on School Bus Seat Belts authorized and funded a research project to investigate the effects of lap-shoulder seat belts on Alabama school buses. This article performs an empirical analysis to address an important component of the study - factors that impact students' decisions about wearing seat belts or not on school buses. Discrete choice modeling framework is applied to quantify relative influences of various factors. To obtain the disaggregate level information on individual student's characteristics and trip properties, a new data collection protocol is developed. Eleven variables are investigated and eight of them are found to have significant impacts. They are age, gender, the home county of a student, a student's trip length, time of day, presence and active involvement of bus aide, and two levels of bus driver involvement. The resulting model fits the data well and reveals several trends that have been overlooked or underestimated in the literature. The model can also be used to predict the change of seat belt usage rate caused by the change of impact factors. This is helpful in identifying the most cost-effective ways to improve compliance rate, which is critical to bring the added safety benefit of seat belts into effect. This article is the first to quantify relative impacts of a range of variables using rigorous statistical modeling techniques. This study will contribute to the literature and provide valuable insights to the practice of school transportation management.
- Discrete choice analysis
- School bus passenger protection
- Seat belt usage rate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health