No seatbelt, no excuse

According to shocking new figures released by the Road Safety Authority (RSA ), in the first six months of 2012, 23 per cent of drivers killed and 29 per cent of passengers killed were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision. The information is based on preliminary data supplied by An Garda Síochána. A worrying feature is the number of people who were not wearing a seatbelt and who were ejected from the vehicle.

The real tragedy behind these figures is that some of these deaths might well have been prevented if the driver or passenger had been wearing a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt significantly increases your chance of survival and can reduce the severity of your injuries if involved in a collision. According to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL ) in the UK around two out of three people will survive or have less serious injuries if they are wearing a seat belt.

Noel Brett, chief executive, RSA, said, “Putting on a seatbelt only takes a few seconds and it’s something we do automatically. Despite this, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of people in this country wear a seatbelt, we have an overall wearing rate of 95 per cent, there is a minority who are willing to put their lives at risk by not wearing one. Why? Is it because they believe it’s their personal choice, they just can’t be bothered, or perhaps they think they look cool in front of their friends?”

Mr Brett concluded, “While not wearing a seatbelt is not cool, it is a selfish act, neither is it a matter of personal choice. If you do not wear a seatbelt you become a potential killer in a crash. You will be thrown around the inside of a car, possibly seriously injuring or killing other occupants in the car. Quite simply, without a seatbelt you’re a killer.”

By not wearing a seatbelt you are not just risking your life and that of others, you are breaking the law. You must wear a seatbelt if one is fitted.

If you do not wear a seatbelt you risk a fine of €80 and two penalty points, which remain on your licence for three years. Passengers over 17 can be fined €80 for not wearing a seatbelt.

The Garda issues an average of 1,300 fixed charged notices each month in 2012 to drivers for seatbelt offences. They issued almost 16,000 notices for seatbelt offences in 2011.

Previous RSA research indicated that males account for four out of five road deaths where no seatbelt is being used, and that young men are four and a half times more likely not to be wearing a seatbelt in a fatal collision (Collision Facts 1998 to 2003 ).

According to the 2010 Road Collision Facts, published by the RSA (the last year we have comprehensive data ) 16 per cent of drivers and 41 per cent of passengers killed were not wearing seat belts.

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