Road safety chiefs set up bank holiday checkpoints for seatbelts
ROAD safety chiefs have described back-seat car passengers who don't wear seatbelts as "tantamount to an unguided missile".
One in six vehicle occupants killed in road collisions last year was not wearing a seatbelt, figures show.
Of the 127 driver and passenger fatalities in 2013, some 21 were not strapped in at the time of the crash.
Garda Assistant Commissioner John Twomey described the figures as "simply not acceptable".
While the compliance rates have improved sharply since 2002, between 6 and 7pc still refuse to wear a seatbelt.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA)'s Michael Rowland said the offenders are "predominantly male and predominantly young males".
He added: "We're aware that some people believe it's uncool to wear a seatbelt or that it's an issue of personal choice.
"An unrestrained passenger in the back of a car involved in a collision is tantamount to an unguided missile."
He was speaking at the start of a nationwide road safety campaign that will see a strong garda presence monitoring drivers and passengers over the bank holiday weekend.
As part of the launch, gardai staged a checkpoint on Custom House Quay in Dublin city centre, where particular attention was paid to seatbelt wearing.
"A lot of progress has been made over the last decade, with seatbelt-wearing rates for drivers increasing from 72pc in 2002 to 93pc in 2012," Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said.
"But too many people are still putting themselves and others at risk by not buckling up.
"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," he added.
Mr Rowland added: "Two out of every three people will survive a crash if they are wearing a seatbelt. Yet despite this, every year lives are lost which could have been prevented."
Some 46,190 penalty points have been issued for failing to wear a seatbelt since the regulation was introduced more than a decade ago.
The highest numbers were recorded in Dublin city (4,783), Cork (3,150), Wexford (1,852) and Galway (1,647).
A further 8,421 offences were recorded for drivers who failed to ensure their child was properly secured.
Between 2007 and 2013, some 30 people were killed and 61 seriously injured in traffic accidents over the St Patrick's bank holiday.