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Seatbelt wearing rates reach all time high

For immediate release
30 August 2004

Seatbelt wearing rates reach all time high, but stubborn minority still not buckling up - LTSA

The Land Transport Safety Authority's latest survey of safety belt use in New Zealand shows 94% of us now buckle up in the front seat - the highest level of compliance ever recorded.

The proportion of those not buckling up in the front seat has been cut in half over the past decade - from 12% in 1994 to 6% this year.

Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright said while 94% might seem like an impressive figure, the fact that anyone would still deliberately choose not to wear a seatbelt defied logic.

"Anyone with even an ounce of common sense will by now realise that the most important thing they can do to protect themselves in a crash is to put on their safety belt every time they get in the car," Mr Wright said.

"There are some 2.85 million licensed drivers in New Zealand. With six percent of them not buckling up, that's still 170,000 people who are so stubborn that they refuse to take even the most basic step to protect themselves. What is it going to take to convince this lot that they are putting their lives on the line for no good reason? Do they lack the instinct of self-preservation?"

Police crash reports show that 94 unrestrained vehicle occupants died in crashes on New Zealand roads last year. Police attending the crashes estimate at least 41 of these people would have survived had they buckled up.

The 2004 survey also revealed that men are twice as likely as women to put themselves at risk unnecessarily, with eight percent of males not wearing safety belts in the front seat, compared to just four percent of females.

Regionally, Auckland, Nelson-Marlborough and Southland led the way this year in front seat safety belt use, each recording 96 percent wearing rates. The greatest improvement from 2003 was recorded in Manawatu-Wanganui, up from 88 to 92 percent.

Waitakere City recorded the highest wearing rate of any metropolitan area, at 98 percent - up six percent from 2003, and the greatest improvement of any city from last year.

The sample size and the number of sites used for the front seatbelt survey was increased significantly last year, allowing results for individual territorial local authorities to be included. Wearing rates varied considerably among the 71 local authorities surveyed this year, from 100 percent in Rodney to just 81 percent in Tararua.

Rear seat safety belt wearing rates are lower than front seat rates, with 19 percent of back seat passengers unrestrained in the LTSA's 2003 survey. Results of the 2004 survey of rear seatbelt use will be released in February next year.
For full details of the 2004 survey of front seat safety belt use, including regional results, go to www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/belts2.html

ENDS

Safety belt wearing by adult front seat occupants: Results of national survey, March / April 2004

The latest annual national survey of safety belt use in New Zealand by adults in the front seats of cars and vans was carried out in March and April 2004. More than 94,600 drivers and adult front seat passengers were observed at 274 sites around the country. As in previous years, each site was surveyed between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on normal working weekdays during the school term.

The restraint survey programme was significantly expanded from 114 sites to 274 sites in 2003. The increase in sites has enabled the reporting of results by Territorial Local Authority wherever practicable. However, results prior to 2003 may not be strictly comparable with subsequent years.

In 2004, the safety belt wearing rate for drivers and adult front seat passengers was 94%. This result is an increase from the 92% wearing rate observed over the previous three years (see Table 1).
Table 1. Safety belt wearing rates for front seat adults by category (%)
Category 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Urban 83 85 87 87 88 90 91 91 93
Open road 88 89 89 91 92 93 93 93 95
Drivers 86 88 88 89 90 92 92 92 94
Passengers 86 88 87 89 90 92 93 92 94
Males 82 84 85 86 87 89 90 89 92
Male drivers 83 85 86 86 88 89 90 90 92
Male passengers 78 77 78 82 83 88 88 88 89
Females 90 92 91 93 93 95 95 94 96
Female drivers 90 92 92 93 94 95 95 94 96
Female passengers 90 92 91 93 93 94 95 94 96
All New Zealand 86 88 88 89 90 92 92 92 94

The wearing rates for various categories of front seat occupant are shown in Table 1. As observed in previous years, travellers on the open road had a slightly higher wearing rate than in urban areas (95% and 93%, respectively) and males, particularly when travelling as passengers, were less likely to wear their safety belts than females (see Figure 1). Overall, there was no difference in levels of safety belt use between drivers and passengers. However, eight percent of male drivers and eleven percent of male passengers were not wearing a safety belt, compared to only four percent of female drivers and passengers.

Figure 1. Safety belt wearing rates for front seat adults, 1996-2004

Regional wearing rates
National LTSA surveys are designed to provide a consistent measure of safety belt use over time by surveying the same sites in each region each year. In 2003, the survey was expanded to include 160 new sites in addition to the 114 sites surveyed in previous years. The increase means the survey results provide a more accurate picture of the front safety belt wearing rates within each region. However, results prior to 2003 are not strictly comparable with subsequent years.
Table 2 shows the safety belt wearing rates in each Local Government region over the last nine years. In 2004, at least 3600 drivers and front seat occupants were surveyed in each region, except in Gisborne where 824 occupants were surveyed. Overall, the wearing of safety belts in the front seat has improved.
No regional wearing rate has decreased markedly since last year. Although front safety belt wearing in Hawkes Bay was below the national average, the wearing rate in this region has been catching up over recent years. The wearing rates in other regions are being maintained or are continuing to increase in line with national trends.

Table 2. Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by Local Government Region (%)
Local Government Region 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Northland 83 75 84 87 83 88 93 90 93
Auckland 88 90 97 93 94 94 91 95 96
Waikato 86 88 88 87 90 93 94 93 94
Bay of Plenty 87 78 84 90 92 94 95 93 95
Gisborne 83 82 91 93 97 94 95 96 92
Hawkes Bay 80 82 78 79 81 82 90 90 91
Taranaki 86 91 96 98 92 93 96 93 92
Manawatu-Wanganui 80 90 84 83 87 88 88 88 92
Wellington 89 90 88 95 89 94 93 91 94
Nelson-Marlborough 89 92 89 89 90 94 95 96 96
West Coast 75 79 74 77 82 94 90 90 93
Canterbury 87 92 91 90 92 92 93 92 94
Otago 90 93 92 93 94 95 95 92 94
Southland 86 90 88 92 95 93 87 93 96
All NZ 86 88 88 89 90 92 92 92 94
Note. The accuracy of the wearing rates shown here depend on the sample sizes (the number of vehicle occupants observed). If the sample size is small, the data may show large random fluctuations in the observed wearing rate. Gisborne region is most affected, with sample sizes of 250-300 occupants in 1996-1999 and 600-800 occupants in 2000-2004. Typically, sample sizes in other regions have been over 1000 occupants and with the survey expansion in 2003, now over 3500 occupants.
Metropolitan area wearing rates
Table 3 shows the wearing rates for selected metropolitan areas over the last nine years. Most metropolitan areas were above the national average. Waitakere has made a considerable improvement in their wearing rate and Manukau and the North Shore have retained the gains made in 2003.
Table 3. Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by Metropolitan area (%)
Metropolitan area 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
North Shore 88 92 94 93 93 96 87 98 97
Waitakere 90 91 95 94 92 93 92 92 98
Auckland City 93 95 97 96 97 99 98 99 96
Manukau 81 89 97 93 94 89 83 93 93
Hamilton 86 90 92 91 91 96 91 96 96
Wellington City 94 91 89 95 92 94 93 96 97
Christchurch 93 96 96 92 94 86 94 97 97
Dunedin 89 96 92 94 96 96 98 95 92
Note. The accuracy of wearing rates shown here depends on the sample sizes (the number of vehicle occupants observed). If the sample size is small, the data may show large random fluctuations in the observed wearing rate. In 2002, North Shore and Hamilton had small sample sizes and were most likely affected. North Shore and Hamilton were the only Metropolitan areas to have new sites added in 2003.

Police district wearing rates
National LTSA surveys are designed to provide a consistent measure of safety belt use over time, by surveying the same sites in each district each year. In 2003 the survey was expanded to include 160 new sites in addition to the 114 sites surveyed in previous years. The increase in the number of sites means that survey results for 2003 provide a more accurate picture of the front safety belt wearing rates within each region. However, results prior to 2003 are not strictly comparable with subsequent years.
Wearing rates have continued to improve, with all Police Districts obtaining a rate of at least 92% in 2004. Northland has shown a continued improvement in recent years and Eastern has come from low rates to catch up with the national average in the last three years.
Wearing rates in other Police Districts have not changed markedly and are continuing to follow a similar pattern to the national rate.
Table 4. Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by Police District (%)
Police District 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Northland 83 75 84 87 83 88 93 90 93
North Shore/Waitakere 91 93 96 94 92 95 93 96 98
Auckland 93 95 97 96 97 99 98 99 96
Counties/Manukau 84 83 97 91 95 89 86 93 94
Waikato 86 87 88 87 89 91 96 92 94
Bay of Plenty 87 83 84 89 92 95 94 94 95
Eastern 80 82 81 81 84 84 91 90 92
Central 82 90 88 88 89 90 90 90 92
Wellington 89 90 88 95 89 94 93 91 94
Tasman 82 85 81 83 86 94 92 93 95
Canterbury 87 91 91 90 92 92 93 92 94
Southern 89 93 91 92 95 94 92 93 95
All NZ 86 88 88 89 90 92 92 92 94

Local Authority wearing rates

Front seat safety belt wearing rates at Local Authority level are presented in Table 5

Table 5. Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by Territorial Local Authority (TLA), 2004

TLA Name N Wearing rate (%)
North Island
Auckland 1406 96
Carterton/South Wairarapa 1159 89
Central Hawkes Bay 1374 89
Far North 1735 94
Franklin 1304 95
Gisborne 822 92
Hamilton 1653 96
Hastings 1450 93
Hauraki 1671 94
Horowhenua 1315 95
Kaipara 936 90
Kapiti Coast 1638 92
Kawerau/Opotiki 826 87
Lower Hutt 1225 96
Manawatu 940 91
Manukau 1555 93
Masterton 1530 91
Matamata-Piako 1472 99
Napier 1465 94
New Plymouth 1521 95
North Shore 1404 97
Otorohanga 842 97
Palmerston North 1520 94
Papakura 1260 95
Porirua 1438 96
Rangitikei 1267 94
Rodney 1405 100
Rotorua 1572 95
Ruapehu 1174 93
South Taranaki 1346 89
South Waikato 1766 95
Stratford 774 91
Tararua 1073 81
Taupo 1476 93
Tauranga 1443 97
Thames-Coromandel 1397 89
Upper Hutt 1318 95
Waikato 1464 92
Waipa 1488 93
Wairoa 1556 90
Waitakere 1470 98
TLA Name N Wearing rate (%)
Waitomo 727 94
Wanganui 1078 91
Wellington 1508 97
Western Bay of Plenty 1249 96
Whakatane 1339 97
Whangarei 1444 94
South Island
Ashburton 1206 99
Banks Peninsula 1196 89
Buller 979 94
Central Otago 1236 95
Christchurch 1506 97
Clutha 1037 94
Dunedin 1338 92
Gore 1339 96
Grey 1569 93
Hurunui 1177 87
Invercargill 1545 98
Kaikoura 820 92
MacKenzie 558 91
Marlborough 1531 96
Nelson 1557 97
Queenstown-Lakes 1594 91
Selwyn 1402 96
Southland 1253 94
Tasman 1539 97
Timaru 1515 95
Waimakariri 1344 97
Waimate 797 92
Waitaki 1030 96
Westland 1065 91
Note. N = number of car/van occupants observed.
Police Area wearing rates

Front seat safety belt wearing rates at Police area level are presented in Table 6

Table 6. Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by Police Area, 2004

Police Area N Wearing rate (%)
Northland
Far North 1751 94
Whangarei 2389 92
North Shore / Waitakere
Rodney 1430 100
North Shore 1447 97
Waitakere 1485 98
Auckland
Auckland East 1131 95
Auckland West 366 97
Counties / Manukau
Howick 401 91
Mangere / Otahuhu-Papatoetoe 797 96
Papakura 1273 95
Pukekohe 1331 95
Waikato
Hamilton 1674 96
Waikato East 4556 94
Waikato West 4600 94
Bay of Plenty
Taupo 3288 94
Tauranga 1450 97
Western Bay of Plenty 1252 96
Whakatane 2157 94
Rotorua 1677 94
Eastern
Gisborne 2385 91
Napier 1510 94
Hastings 2894 91
Central
New Plymouth 1545 95
Taranaki rural 2125 90
Wanganui 1930 92
Ruapehu 1627 94


Police Area N Wearing rate (%)
Palmerston North rural 4191 89
Palmerston North city 1522 94
Wellington
Kapiti - Mana 2317 96
Wellington city 1508 97
Lower Hutt 1225 96
Upper Hutt 1319 95
Wairarapa 2739 90
Tasman
Nelson Bays 3136 97
Marlborough 2462 94
West Coast 3690 93
Canterbury
New Brighton 2900 93
Papanui 397 97
Sydenham 1597 91
Hornby 3146 97
South Canterbury 2979 94
Southern
Dunedin 2526 93
Otago Rural 3928 94
Southland 4228 96
Note. N = number of car/van occupants observed.

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