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JAMA. 1991 Mar 20;265(11):1409-13.

Motor vehicle crash injury patterns and the Virginia seat belt law.

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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, VA.


Injuries to front seat occupants in tow-away crashes in the Charlottesville, Va, area were compared for 1 year before and 1 year after Virginia's seat belt use law took effect. Vehicle and occupant data were combined to examine crash and injury patterns. Reported seat belt use in crashes increased after the law, and there were substantial decreases in injuries. Front seat occupants were less likely to receive medical treatment following a crash in the postlaw period. The reduction in the number of injuries was greater for passengers in the right front seat than for drivers and for frontal crashes than for other types of crashes. The injury reduction effects occurred primarily through reductions in the number of head and face injuries, particularly those that occur from contact with windshields and instrument panels.

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