DIFFERENCES IN DRIVING BEHAVIOR

Drivers in Western states are more likely to drive fast and to wear their seat belts, while Easterners are more likely than Southerners to admit to drinking and driving, according to a poll conducted by Louis Harris and Associates released earlier this month.

Commissioned by Prevention magazine and General Motors Corp., the auto safety poll randomly sampled 1,250 adults by telephone in November and December 1989. It has an error rate of 3 points.

Among its findings:

There was a significant drop -- 17 percent -- in the past five years in the number of young drivers who say they sometimes drink and drive. More affluent, college-educated people are four times as likely to drink and drive than those who never graduated from high school.

In those states that lack a mandatory seat-belt law, 72 percent of those polled say they would support one.

Twice as many men -- 28 percent -- as women -- 14 percent -- admit to sometimes driving after drinking.

The majority of respondents -- 79 percent -- say they support expanded use of police roadblocks or checkpoints to reduce drunk driving.

While 30 percent would pay an extra $500 for an air bag, 38 percent think accidental inflation is a serious problem and 35 percent think that air bags can trap people in their cars.

WHO BUCKLES UP?

Drivers and front-seat passengers: 63 percent.

College grads: 74 percent.

High-school dropouts: 52 percent.

Those earning more than $50,000 a year: 73 percent.

Those earning less than $15,000 a year: 51 percent.

WHO DRINKS AND DRIVES?

Ages 18 to 29 (admit to driving after drinking): 24 percent.

Ages 30 to 39: 31 percent.

Ages 40 to 49: 23 percent.

Ages 50 to 64: 14 percent.

Easterners: 27 percent.

Southerners: 15 percent.

Midwesterners: 25 percent.

Westerners: 21 percent.

WHO SPEEDS?

Those who say they never exceed the posted limit:

In the Midwest/South: 53 percent.

In the East: 45 percent.

In the West: 41 percent.

Women: 54 percent.

Men: 44 percent.