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Destined for a dangerous ride?

Belief in an inevitable destiny outside one's control may account for the greater propensity of blacks and Hispanics to leave their seat belts unbuckled, according to a preliminary report in the June AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

A survey of 1,063 individuals in Harrisburg, Pa., and its suburbs found that white participants reported using seat belts 75 percent of the time they drove, compared with 67 percent for black and Hispanic volunteers. Previous research reports had also noted lower rates of seat belt use by racial minorities.

But the Harrisburg survey indicates that blacks and Hispanics also agree substantially more than whites with the statement, "There is no point in using seat belts, since you can't change your destiny." Participants reported their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement on a seven-point scale. The difference in seat belt use by race disappears when the belief in destiny is statistically controlled, asserts survey director Israel Colon of Temple University in Philadelphia.

Colon acknowledges that self-reports provide inflated estimates of seat belt use. However, he maintains, educational campaigns designed to increase the frequency of buckling up may need to address specific beliefs in black and Hispanic communities, perhaps in collaboration with influential local churches.
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Title Annotation:racial minorities and seat belt usage
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 13, 1992
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