Make It Click - Seat belt Use
Wearing a seat belt in a moving vehicle is mandatory by law for all occupants. If the vehicle is fitted with seat belts, occupants must wear them. Occupants not wearing a seat belt in a moving vehicle can be fined a $150 penalty. The need to wear seat belts is more about safety however and less about law. Seat belts are a safety device that reduce the risk of serious injury and death should a crash occur.
Each year, about 63 people die on our roads from not wearing a seat belt during a vehicle crash.In the last three years, over 284 people have died in NZ crashes from not wearing their seat belt. Overall each year, those who do not wear a seat belt in a vehicle accident account for about 30% of road deaths. Considering wearing a seat belt increases your chances of surviving a vehicle crash by 60%, many lives could be saved each year if everyone wore their seat belts.
Why then do some people not wear seat belts?
Myth 1. Seat belts restrict movement. Some people believe wearing a seat belt is uncomfortable and restricts movement because the seat belt rubs against their neck or shoulder.
Fact: Vehicle occupants will find that if they correctly adjust their seat and the seat belt, any discomfort and restriction in movement can be reduced.
Myth 2. Seat belts prevent escape. Some people believe wearing a seat belt in a vehicle crash can prevent the occupant from escaping should the vehicle catch fire or submerge in water.
Fact: Wearing a seat belt in a crash will keep the occupant from being knocked unconscious or being fatally ejected from the vehicle and thereby improve their chances of being able to escape after an accident.
Myth 3. Good drivers don’t need to wear seat belts. Some people believe that they don’t need to wear seat belts because they are good drivers and good drivers don’t have collisions.
Fact: This thinking does not consider that accidents can happen because of a range of external factors. An accident may result due to poor weather or road conditions, car failure or because of another driver. Good drivers know they have to account for external risk factors.
What you can do increase seat belt use?
The first thing you can do is to know that seat belts are installed in vehicles for the safety of the driver and other road users. Wearing a seat belt in an accident reduces the risk of injury to both the occupant and others. You can endanger others in a car crash by not wearing a seat belt because you could become a moving projectile when ejected from your seat.
Second, lead by example by making it a habit to always buckle up before you move the vehicle. Trying to wear your seat belt once you have begun driving is not only difficult but also puts yourself and others in greater danger.
Third, spread the message about the need to wear a seat belt and encourage others to use their seat belts. Educating others on the benefits of wearing seat belts and the harms of not wearing them is an important part of keeping our roads safe.