Usual seat belt practices reported by airline passengers surveyed in gate areas of a U.S. airport

Deborah C. Girasek*, Cara H. Olsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Most people who are seriously injured or die as a result of air turbulence were not wearing seat belts, yet we find no published studies of airline passengers' seat belt use. Drawing from the traffic safety literature, we explored characteristics that might be associated with passenger restraint use on planes. Methods: The study was conducted at a major U.S. airport. All passengers waiting to board 24 domestic flights were asked to complete a brief, anonymous survey. We solicited data on various passenger characteristics, including their alcohol consumption patterns. We then used bivariate and regression analyses to explore whether those factors covaried with passengers' usual seat belt use when the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign was turned on, and when it was off. Results: We invited 2013 adults to participate; 1548 usable questionnaires were returned. Of those who responded, 7% (n = 112) stated that they "rarely" or "never" fasten their belt in the "Sign Off" condition; that number fell to 2% (n = 26) for the "Sign On" condition. Under "Sign Off" conditions, logistic regression revealed significant differences between the group that "always" or "usually" wore seat belts and the noncompliant group: the latter flew less frequently and were more likely to say they would consume alcohol on their upcoming flight. Discussion: In general the rate of seat belt use by airline passengers appears to be higher than it is in motor vehicles. Nevertheless, airline passengers who resist using seat belts share some of the characteristics of motor vehicle occupants who underutilize passenger restraints. Reprint &

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1054
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Restraint use
  • Turbulence


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