Seatbelt check list

15 September 2017 - By Eugene Herbert

“Is everyone buckled up?” – A reasonable question and one being asked more often by discerning motorists who place a high value on safety when it comes to seatbelt use.


It’s a good idea for all drivers to make this simple question a permanent part of their pre-trip routine whenever they have passengers. Unfortunately, some adults neglect to wear safety belts on every trip, especially when they’re riding in the back seat.


While we don’t have accurate figures for South Africa and, given the unreliability of our statistics, it is safe to rely on anecdotal evidence that suggests a less than 10% wear rate.  Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a seatbelt use survey between June and August. Of 1172 respondents who were rear passengers during the previous six months, 72% said they always wear seatbelts in the back seat. In contrast, 91% said they always use their seat belt when seated in the front. That’s a noteworthy difference.


What many drivers don’t realise is one passenger’s decision not wear their seat belt can have consequences for other people in the vehicle. A 2013 study from the University of Virginia says drivers are about twice as likely to suffer fatal injuries in a crash when the left rear passenger is not wearing a seatbelt in comparison to when that passenger is wearing a seat belt.


Adults aged 35-54 are at a greater risk for neglecting to buckle up, according to the IIHS study. A total of 66% of the adults in this group reported always using a belt in the back. This is compared with 76% of adults 55 and older and 73% of adults 18 to 34.


Nearly 40% of people surveyed say they sometimes don’t wear a seatbelt in the back seat. They say this is because there’s no law requiring it.


But 75% of those not wearing a seatbelt in the back say they are more likely to wear one. That is, if someone gives them a reminder to do so. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of part-time seatbelt users and non-users acknowledged audible reminders will make them more likely to buckle up.


In 2015, safety belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives. And if everyone buckled up, it is possible to prevent an additional 2,800 deaths. This is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More than half of the people who die in US passenger vehicle crashes yearly, are not wearing a seatbelt. This brings it back to our own country – how many lives will we save if everyone buckles up?


Remember – when you drive a car or are a passenger in a car, buckle up, it makes sense.

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