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Too many Kiwis still not buckling up - LTSA survey

For immediate release
7 July 2003

Too many Kiwis still not buckling up - LTSA survey

A stubborn eight percent of New Zealanders are still refusing to buckle up in the front seat, according to the Land Transport Safety Authority's latest survey of safety belt use.

The 2003 national survey of front seatbelt use by adults found eight percent of drivers and front seat passengers were unrestrained - a figure which has remained unchanged since 2001, after dropping steadily from 15 percent in 1995.

Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright said the results showed that a significant number of New Zealanders were still putting their lives at risk unnecessarily.

"There are some 2.6 million licensed drivers in New Zealand. If eight percent of them aren't buckling up, that's more than 200,000 people who are refusing to take even the most basic step to protect themselves. They are putting their lives on the line for no good reason.

"The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from harm in a crash is to put on your safety belt every time you get in the car. If you buckle up but someone you know doesn't, get on their case about it and nag them until they do - you could well save their life," Mr Wright said.

Police crash reports show that 77 unrestrained vehicle occupants died in crashes on New Zealand roads last year. Police attending the crashes estimate at least 33 of these people would have survived had they buckled up.

Rear seat safety belt wearing rates are lower than front seat rates, with 20 percent of back seat passengers unrestrained in the LTSA's most recent survey. Full results of the latest survey of rear seatbelt use will be released later this month.

The 2003 front seatbelt use survey found that males are still less likely to buckle up than females, with 11 percent of men unrestrained, compared with six percent of women.

Regionally, Gisborne and Nelson-Marlborough led the way in front safety belt use, each recording 96 percent wearing rates. The greatest improvements from 2002 were recorded in Auckland (up from 91 to 95 percent) and Southland (up from 87 to 93 percent).

Auckland City once again led the way for metropolitan areas, with a 99 percent wearing rate - the sixth year in a row that Auckland has topped all other cities. Improving substantially from last year were North Shore City (up from 87 to 98 percent) and Manukau City (up from 83 to 93 percent).

The sample size for this year's survey was increased to 96,100 drivers and front seat passengers - more than double the number of previous surveys. The number of sites surveyed was also increased, from 114 in previous years to 274 this year.

As a result of the expanded sample size, this year's survey includes individual results for territorial local authorities for the first time. Wearing rates varied considerably among the 71 local authorities surveyed, from 99 percent in Auckland and Western Bay of Plenty to just 80 percent in Banks Peninsula.

For full details of the 2003 survey of front seat safety belt use, including regional results, go to


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