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Arch Hellen Med, 16(5), September-October 1999, 464-472


Effectiveness of an integrated campaign to increase seat belt use
in the Greater Athens area


1Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Athens, Medical School, Athens, Greece,
2Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA,
3Department of Health Education, Ministry of Education, Greece,
4Ministry of Transportation, Greece

OBJECTIVE To assess the effectiveness of a comprehensive multisectoral education and information campaign aiming to increase seat belt use in the Greater Athens area. Greece has one of the highest death rates from motor vehicle injuries and one of the lowest seat belt utilization rates among EU member states.
METHOD In mid 1996 an inspection survey focusing on seat belt use and its determinants was undertaken amongst occupants of 1,400 passenger cars. From October 1997–June 1998 the campaign was implemented by a road safety coalition comprising 50 governmental and non governmental organizations, during which time seat belt law enforcement was not intensified. In mid 1998 a second inspection survey of 2,250 cars was undertaken following the same protocol. The data from the two surveys modeled through multiple logistic regression.
RESULTS The odds ratio of seat belt use was significantly higher in 1998 than in 1996 (1.8 with 95% confidence interval 1.5–2.1). Improvement was particularly evident in highway journeys and among 25-64 year old car occupants, but it was minimal among rear seat passengers, younger occupants, and in low speed city and suburb journeys. Among front seat occupants, those travelling in larger engine capacity cars with airbags were less likely to use seat belts, whereas seat belting was more frequent among occupants of newer car models.
CONCLUSIONS An education and information campaign in the Greater Athens area resulted in increased prevalence of seat belt use. More intensive and sustained effort is required to increase seat belt use on low speed journeys and among rear seat occupants, so that seat belt utilization rates in Greece approach those recorded in most EU countries and the USA.

Key words: Education information campaign, Effectiveness, Inspection survey, Safety coalition, Seat belt.

© 2000, Archives of Hellenic Medicine