The purpose of this paper is to quantify the effect of the enforcement, which was carried out with ANPRs, on seat belt use. Though the Seat belt Act was enacted in 1992, it did not lead to an expected increase in seat belt use in Turkey including Sanliurfa, which is one of the immense provinces with a population of over 2m. The Sanliurfa Police Department set in an enforcement campaign, in which automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras were used to facilitate an increment in using seat belts in the city center. Under the police leadership, seat belt use enforcement campaign was hugely publicized and sustained throughout the city.
The ANPRs did not have a feature to detect seat belt wearing automatically. Thus, this study tested whether automated plate recognition cameras have a deterrence effect on seat belt usage. To assess the efficacy of this enforcement project, the authors employed a pre/post-implementation design. For this study, the records of the 11 ANPR camera sites, 2 non-camera sites and 2 control sites were utilized.
The results of this study revealed that the seat belt use rate was around 8 percent, before camera enforcement in Sanliurfa. Overall increases were 12 percent during the warning period, 60 percent for the beginning period and 78 percent three months after enforcement began at camera sites. One-way ANOVA results suggested the differences between means of seat belt use counts were statistically significant F (3, 61,596)=15,456, p=0.000.
The findings suggest that there are several reasons for the substantial increase in the seat belt use rate. The first reason for the success of the cameras was their deterrent effect on the drivers, because the drivers were aware that the traffic offense had become readily observable via camera detection in the intersections, and the drivers did not want to be penalized. Second, it is considered that a well-organized publicity of the cameras made a significant contribution to the effectiveness of the enforcement by increasing perceived detection risk. Finally, it is considered that the reason behind the sudden increase in seat belt use was the red-light cameras that had been already in use in Sanliurfa. Namely, the experience of the drivers about camera enforcement gave rise to the rapid decrease in seat belt violation rate in the warning period.
Using cameras (automatic or not) for seat belt enforcement and publicizing this enforcement can help to save resources and lives.
This study found a lot of news about similar enforcement on the internet, but no study was found in the literature that reveals if the enforcement can produce an effective result. Thus, this is the first study in Turkey, may be in the world, that evaluated if cameras of the ANPRS can generate effective seat belt enforcement. Furthermore, the study betokened that traffic violations, which cannot be automatically detected by cameras such as cell phone use and smoking in a vehicle can be effectively enforced by non-automatic cameras. Therefore, we believe that the study will contribute policing and the traffic safety literature.
Ozbaran, Y. and Tasgin, S. (2019), "Using cameras of automatic number plate recognition system for seat belt enforcement a case study of Sanliurfa (Turkey)", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 688-700. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2018-0093
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