Report numberRA-2006-76
TitleEffect of a seat belt campaign in Antwerp
AuthorsErik Nuyts
Lara Vesentini
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Traffic Safety 2002-2006
Number of pages42
Document languageDutch
Work packageOther: Behaviour

In September 2004 there was a seat belt campaign in Antwerp, Belgium called “Children can be broken” (“Kinderen kunnen kapot”). This was partly a sensitization campaign and partly an enforcement and rewarding campaign. To measure the effect of both parts seat belt use was counted before, during and after the campaign.


If the sensitisation part had any measurable effect, it was a negative one. During the sensitisation part, but before the start of the enforcement part, seat belt use of passengers and seat belt use during off peak hours decreased significantly. From extra seat belt counts in August and September 2005 we conclude that the decrease was not due to different seat belt use during the summer holidays compared to the regular traffic in September. Theoretically, the decrease could be caused by the upsetting visual of the campaign, but also this explanation is not really convincing. Literature shows that emotive and even upsetting campaigns can be very effective. Moreover, in that case it is surprising that the campaign would be contra productive for passengers, but not for drivers.


The enforcement and rewarding part of the campaign increased seat belt use for all subgroups. This is in agreement with earlier results of a comparable campaign in Antwerp in 2003. After the campaign, seat belt use decreased again, more or less to the level before the campaign. But in spite of this decrease after campaigns, seat belt use in Antwerp increases steadily during the last five years. Literature shows that enforcement campaigns are the most effective if the are accompanied by mass media publicity.


Analysis of seat belt counts and seat belt sensitisation campaigns of the Belgian Institute for Traffic Safety (BIVV) for the years 1998 to 2001 shows that an increase of seat belt use during campaigns, most often is followed by a decrease afterwards.


From the Antwerp example, we conclude that the enforcement and rewarding campaign influences more directly the seat belt use than the sensitisation campaign.

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