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Unbuckled Men Letting Down The Side - LTSA Survey

20 June 2002

Men who refuse to buckle up are keeping New Zealand's seatbelt wearing rates from topping 95 percent, according to the Land Transport Safety Authority's latest survey.

The 2002 national survey of front seatbelt use by adults has found that men are twice as likely to neglect to buckle up as women. Ten percent of male drivers and twelve percent of male passengers observed in the survey were unrestrained, compared to just five percent of female drivers and passengers.

Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright said that while 90 percent of men were now buckling up, if male wearing rates equalled those of women many lives could be saved every year.

"Most men are doing the smart thing and wearing their seatbelts, but one in ten are still stubbornly refusing to belt up. Some will say that by pointing this out we're engaging in male bashing. I disagree - the real male bashing happens when these men crash and they aren't buckled up."

Crash data shows that 29 percent of male drivers and passengers killed last year were unrestrained (66 of 228), compared to 15 percent of females (20 of 130).

Mr Wright said police attending crashes last year estimated that at least 29 of the 86 unrestrained vehicle occupants killed could have survived had they been buckled up.

"It only takes two seconds to put on a seatbelt, and doing it can save you and your family a lifetime of pain and suffering. It's really that simple."

This year's survey shows overall front seatbelt wearing rates holding steady at 92 percent nationally, the same figure recorded in 2001. Wearing rates have risen from 86 percent in 1995, when the Police/LTSA road safety enforcement and advertising campaign was introduced.

Regional figures show that several areas which had wearing rates well below the national average in 1996 and 1997 have now caught up. Northland, Bay of Plenty and West Coast wearing rates have all shown large improvements, from 1997 rates in the mid seventies to 90 percent or higher this year. The wearing rate in Hawkes Bay has also increased significantly - now at 90 percent after fluctuating around 80 percent for several years. Auckland and Dunedin recorded the highest wearing rates for metropolitan areas, both at 98 percent.

This year's national survey of front seatbelt use by adults was carried out in March and April. More than 42,900 drivers and passengers were observed at 114 sites around the country.

Police Inspector John Kelly said the survey results would be used to help target enforcement activity, which would take a 'zero tolerance' approach.

“We're tired of picking up the pieces of people who flout the law and ignore common sense. We've given plenty of warnings in the past and we aren't taking any more excuses from motorists who don’t buckle up,” Mr Kelly said.

Vehicle occupants face a fine of $150 each if caught not wearing a seatbelt, and drivers failing to properly restrain children face an additional $150 fine per child.


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