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National Occupant Protection Use Survey


The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) is the only nationwide probability-based observational survey of seat belt use in the U.S. The survey observes usage as it actually occurs at a random selection of roadway sites, and also provides the best tracking of the extent to which vehicle occupants in this country are buckling up.

Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Data Years Available: 
Mode of Collection: 
Selected Content: 
Observational data are collected for drivers, right-front passengers, and up to two passengers in the second row of seats. Data include seat belt usage and subjective assessments of age and race.
Population Covered: 

The survey data are collected by sending trained observers to probabilistically sampled intersections controlled by stop signs or stoplights, where vehicle occupants are observed from the roadside. Data are collected between 7 am and 6 pm. Only stopped vehicles are observed. Adjustments are made to provide estimates of seat belt usage by front-seat occupants in transit on all types of roadways.

Response Rates and Sample Size: 

The 2008 survey included 1,504 observation sites. Over 55,000 vehicles and 79,000 occupants were observed.

Interpretation Issues: 

Seat Belt Use in Rear Seats in 2008. Traffic Safety Facts Research Notes. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009. Available at: