An analysis of road fatality statistics has revealed that almost 1 in 5 vehicle occupants killed in 2013*were not wearing their seatbelt at the time of the collision, meaning that as many as 21 lives could potentially have been saved if they had been wearing their seatbelt.
This was announced at the launch of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána St Patrick’s Weekend Road Safety Campaign which will see a nationwide Garda presence this weekend to address in particular the non-wearing of seatbelts.
Speaking ahead of the Bank Holiday Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Leo Varadkar TD said, “A lot of progress has been made over the last decade, with seatbelt wearing rates for drivers increasing from 72% in 2002 to 93% in 2012. But too many people are still putting themselves at risk, and the safety of others, by not buckling up in the car. The Government’s Road Safety Strategy has set a target for full compliance on seatbelt wearing by 2020, but there is every reason to meet that target sooner. Wearing a seatbelt is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you, and everyone in your car, stays safe if you crash. So buckle up this weekend, and make sure everyone else in your car does the same.”
Mr Michael Rowland, Director of Road Safety Research and Driver Education said, “Two out of every three people will survive a crash if they are wearing a seatbelt. Yet despite this, every year lives are lost on our roads which could have been prevented by buckling up. Not wearing a seatbelt was a contributory factor in almost 1 in 5 fatalities and 1 in 10 serious injuries on our roads between 1997 and 2011. And many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if the driver or passenger was wearing their seatbelt.”
“Bank holiday weekends are a higher risk period for road collisions because there are more people on the road and we tend to be a bit more relaxed about our behaviour. In the period 2007 to 2013, 17 people were killed and seriously injured on our roads on St Patrick’s Day. Our message for this weekend is simple – make smart choices about how you use the roads: never ever drink or drug drive, don’t speed and make sure you and your passengers are wearing your seatbelts before you set off on a journey, no matter how short.”
An Garda Síochána is reminding road-users that its members will be out in force over the St Patrick’s Day bank holiday period to tackle high risk behaviours, with a particular focus on non-compliance with seatbelt wearing.
Assistant Commissioner John Twomey, An Garda Síochána said today:- “In recent years, we have seen a marked change in how people use the roads but unfortunately, people continue to take risks by not ensuring that they and their passengers are properly restrained in a vehicle. Now is not a time for people to become complacent. Not wearing a seatbelt, or failing to ensure your younger passengers are wearing their seatbelt or using an appropriate child restraint, is not only an offence, but it is also totally irresponsible and potentially life threatening. It is tragic to think that nearly 1 on 5 of the driver or passenger fatalities in 2013 was not wearing one at the time of the collision, and this figure could rise as investigations progress. This is simply not acceptable, totally avoidable and could have changed the outcome for that person. We will be active throughout the country over the St Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday period to monitor all traffic offences but with a particular focus on non-wearing of seatbelts. So please act responsibly this weekend and always ensure you are buckled up on every journey.”
Since the introduction of penalty points for seatbelt offences there have been 46,190 penalty points issued for failing to wear a safety belt. The highest number of offences for failing to wear a safety belt were recorded in Dublin City, Cork, Wexford and Galway respectively**. A further 8,421 penalty point offences have been recorded for drivers who failed to ensure their child was restrained in either a child restraint or seatbelt since their introduction in 2002.
An RSA observational study of seatbelt wearing rates conducted in 2013 among 20,000 car users found that 94% of drivers, 93% of front passengers and 89% of rear passengers were observed wearing their seatbelts. Women were found to be more compliant than men with 97% of female drivers belting up compared to 92% of male drivers; 96% of female front passengers compared to 90% of male front passengers; and 93% of female rear passengers compared to 84% of male rear passengers.
The Road Safety Authority will be supporting the Garda enforcement campaign by airing its Crashed Lives TV advertising campaign which features Dr Gerry Lane, Consultant in the Emergency Department, at Letterkenny General Hospital.