Trends in safe driving behaviors and in relation to trends in health maintenance behaviors in the USA: 1985-1995

David Shinar, Edna Schechtman, Richard Compton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Specific health and safe driving behaviors of the American adult population during the period 1985-1995, were examined for trends and for consistencies in observing them. The data base consisted of the results of annual surveys conducted on representative samples of 1250 people of the US adult population. Two indices were developed: a Health Index (HI) and a Safety Index (SI). The Health Index reflects the level of practice of six health and disease preventing behaviors (in order of decreasing importance: not smoking, frequent exercises, avoiding fat foods, having an annual blood pressure test, avoiding high-cholesterol foods, and having an annual dental exam). The Safety Index reflects the level of practice of three safe driving behaviors (in order of decreasing importance: wearing safety belts, avoiding drinking and driving, and observing the speed limit). Only a weak association was found among the individual safe driving behaviors, among the individual health maintenance behaviors, and between the two sets of behaviors. Over the 11-year study period the change in the Health Index has been practically and statistically insignificant, whereas the change in the Safety Index was both statistically and practically significant. The small improvement in the Safety Index actually masked a complex pattern of changes in safe driving habits. The three component Safety Index behaviors did not change in the same manner over the 11-year period. The greatest and most consistent increase was in the use of safety belts, with the reported percent who use it all the time increasing from 41.5% in 1985 to 74.1% in 1995 (an increase of 80%). There was also a consistent positive trend in refraining from drinking and driving, but the overall improvement was less dramatic than that reported for use of safety belts: from 71.6% reporting they never drink and drive in 1985 to 79.1% in 1995 (an increase of 10%). Still, it is noteworthy that by 1995 nearly 80% of the people reported they never drink and drive. Finally, obeying the speed limit did not improve over the 11-year period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-503
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Drinking and driving
  • Health behaviors
  • Safety belts
  • Speeding
  • Traffic safety


Dive into the research topics of 'Trends in safe driving behaviors and in relation to trends in health maintenance behaviors in the USA: 1985-1995'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this