PHYSICIANS, by virtue of their access to and understanding of new scientific knowledge in the field of health, are usually leaders in the adoption of proven advances in prevention of disease and injury. Recent data on the use and promotion of automobile seat belts by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics are a good case in point, but illustrate also that, even among the well-informed, further information is needed.
In 1960 the Committee on Accident Prevention surveyed Academy members on the availability and use of seat belts in their own family cars through a questionnaire which accompanied the February News Letter. Approximately one-third responded. Of these, 33% had safety belts in their family cars (Table I), 6 to 10 times as many as reported from studies of the general public. However, only one-half of those with belts used them routinely. Even more surprising, only 38% of members with seat belts recommended them to the families of their patients, and this was identical to the percentage of members without seat belts who made similar recommendations!
In 1961, on the strong advice of physicians and others, American automobile manufacturers agreed to include seat belt attachments as standard equipment on most cars, and several state legislatures, including California and New York, made such attachments mandatory for the sale of all new cars. The facts that convinced the manufacturers and legislators still need full dissemination before seat belts will actually be widely used. The American Medical Association, the National Safety Council, the United States Public Health Service, and others are currently sponsoring a nationwide advertising campaign to bring these facts to the people.
- Copyright © 1962 by the American Academy of Pediatrics