Accepted 11 August 2011.
Introduction Despite of its importance for preventing fatal and severe injuries in an event of a crash, limited studies were conducted to find out the status of seatbelt use among rear passengers in Malaysia. This study was conducted to the determine seatbelt use among rear passengers in Malaysia in conjunction with the introduction of the rear seatbelt law that took effect on 1st January 2009.
Methods Two methods were used; the roadside observations and surveys. A total of 4180 rear passengers were observed during the road side observation and 793 rear passengers were interviewed in the survey.
Results About 41.8 % (95 % CI: 38.3, 45.4) of rear passengers interviewed reported that they “Always/Often’ wore safety belts, while roadside observation recorded slightly lower rate (36.2 % [95 % CI: 34.8, 37.7]). Based on the roadside observation method, male rear passengers were more likely to use rear seatbelts as compared to female rear passengers (with Odd Ratio: 1.17 (95 % CI: 1.03, 1.33)). Both methods consistently reported that rear passengers of Multipurpose Vehicle (MPV)/Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) (survey method “always wear”: 39.3 %, Odd Ratio: 2.02 [95 % CI: 1.13, 3.61], roadside observation method: 51.9 %, Odd Ratio: 2.23 [95 % CI: 1.89, 2.62]) were two times more likely to wear seatbelts as compared to rear passengers of a car.
Conclusions The two research methods indicate rear passengers in Malaysia were consistently having low seatbelt usage rate. As the rear seatbelt advocacy and enforcement programme are new in Malaysia, efforts to advocate rear seatbelt use should be strengthened. The changes in rear seatbelt usage rate need to be tracked regularly and as an alternative to roadside observation method, interview survey method could be used to measure the seatbelt usage rate and to identify the reason for not using safety belt among rear passengers.