Monday 16 September 2019

Ask people to belt up - it's a matter of life and death

Putting on a seatbelt has become second nature for most people
Putting on a seatbelt has become second nature for most people

RSA expert

The moon landing is not the only anniversary being celebrated this year. Forty years ago, in 1979, the wearing of seat belts became compulsory for drivers and front-seat passengers here.

There are lots of reasons our roads have become safer - better education and awareness of road safety, improvements in road and vehicle engineering plus tougher laws and enforcement are just some.

But the fact that putting on your seat belt has become second nature for most people is also an important factor.

Every day, wearing a seat belt, even on the shortest of trips, reduces deaths and serious injuries.

That is why it is so disappointing to see, in an RSA observational study, that while seat belt wearing rates overall are high - 94pc for drivers and front-seat passengers - only 89pc of rear-seat passengers wear one.

An analysis of all rear-seat passengers involved in fatal collisions from 2008 to 2012 showed those not wearing a seat belt were more likely to be killed compared with those wearing one.

Of rear-seat passengers not wearing a belt, 45pc were killed and 55pc survived, while of the rear-seat passengers who were wearing a seat belt 22pc were killed and 78pc survived. The age profile of passengers killed tends to be young - in the 16-25 age group.

Not wearing a belt doesn't just increase the chance of being killed or seriously injured, it could turn you into a killer. Not being restrained means, in the event of a collision, you could be thrown around at extremely high force, causing serious injury to yourself and others. Not wearing a seat belt is not just dangerous, it's selfish.

To tackle the issue, the RSA has developed a new campaign. It urges drivers to ask their passengers to put on their seat belt before setting off. Independent research conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes shows that forgetting to put on a seat belt is the main reason given for not wearing one. But the simple act of asking will fix this.

The campaign empowers drivers to ask their passengers the question: "What's the worst thing that could happen if you ask a mate to put a seat belt on?" Whatever your imagination can come up with, it's nothing compared with the prospect of your mate becoming an unrestrained missile in the event of a crash.

So drivers, remember the next time you have friends or family in the car, before you turn the ignition ask the question: "Can you put your seat belt on?"

No one ever died asking.

Irish Independent

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