Seatbelt Use in Motor Vehicles on Military Installations

NSIAD-85-66: Published: Apr 26, 1985. Publicly Released: May 28, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense (DOD) traffic safety program to determine the adequacy and enforceability of DOD instructions concerning seatbelt use, and the extent to which these instructions are being enforced and complied with on military installations.

DOD requires seatbelt use by all military personnel and DOD civilian employees who operate or ride in motor vehicles on military installations. GAO found that DOD has the legal authority to issue and enforce regulations requiring universal seatbelt use by motorists travelling on DOD-controlled land; however, GAO found that DOD guidance on seatbelt use lacks sufficient specificity on enforcement and that there is little enforcement at some installations. At about half of the installations GAO contacted, officials reported that the mandatory use of seatbelts was enforceable to a great extent. Officials at other installations considered the seatbelt requirement to be difficult to enforce. Military installations which had specific penalties assessed traffic points rather than monetary fines for seatbelt violations. In visiting 53 installations, GAO found few indications of seatbelt warnings or enforcement. Surveys have shown that the use of seatbelts at military installations ranged between 48 and 99 percent, which is a far greater rate of use than that demonstrated by surveys of seatbelt use by the general public. DOD is currently revising the seatbelt requirement so that it will: (1) apply to everyone driving on a DOD road, not just military personnel and civilian employees; and (2) specify penalties for noncompliance.

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