Almost one in five vehicle occupants killed in 2013 were not wearing their seatbelt at the time of the collision, according to an analysis of road fatality statistics.
This means as many as 21 lives could potentially have been saved if they had been wearing their seatbelt.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said: “A lot of progress has been made over the last decade with seatbelt wearing rates for drivers increasing from 72 per cent in 2002 to 93 per cent 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, and make sure everyone else in your car does the same.”
Michael Rowland, director of road safety research and driver education, said two out of three people would survive a crash if they were wearing a seatbelt. Yet despite this, every year lives are lost on the roads which could have been prevented by buckling up. Not wearing a seatbelt was a contributory factor in almost one in five fatalities and one in 10 serious injuries on Ireland’s roads between 1997 and 2011.
“Our message 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.”
Assistant Garda Síochána Commissioner, John Twomey, said: “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.
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 per cent of drivers, 93 per cent of front passengers ,and 89 per cent of rear passengers, were observed wearing their seatbelts. Women were found to be more compliant than men with 97 per cent of female drivers belting up compared to 92 per cent of male drivers.