Despite the proven effectiveness of seat belt use in reducing injury severity in road traffic accidents, a large number of car occupants do not use a seat belt in Turkey. The main aim of the present study was to explain self-reported scat belt use among front seat passengers with the basic and extended (habit, moral norm and anticipated regret added) theory of planned behavior (TPB) model and the health belief model (HBM), and to compare the models' predictive power and fit to the data. Students (N = 277) completed a questionnaire including demographic information and the TPB and HBM items applied to scat belt use. Structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques were used in analysis of the data. Results showed that the basic TPB model showed a good fit to the data whereas the extended TPB model and the HBM model fitted the data poorly. Within the basic TPB model, attitudes and subjective norm had a positive relationship to seat belt use intention for both urban and rural roads. Practical implications of the results for the seat belt use campaigns and traffic safety are discussed. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.