Motor vehicle drivers who feel too macho to wear a seat belt or who think it's too much trouble to buckle up ought to be aware of a new study by the University of Illinois.

Researchers studied 1,364 accident victims at four hospitals in the Chicago area. There were five deaths, all involving people who weren't wearing seat belts. Of the most severely injured patients, 82 percent were not wearing belts.Overall, 58 percent of the patients had been wearing seat belts. Rating the severity of injuries on a scale of one to five, the mean score of those who wore belts was 1.8. Those unbelted scored 4.51.

On the cost side, hospital charges for the belt wearers averaged $534, compared to $1,583 for the non-wearers.

The study, which researchers said was the first of its kind, provides more proof that using seat belts lessens the chance of suffering severe pain in body and pocketbook.