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Seatbelt wearing rates reach all time high

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.

Front safety belts page two of two

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 http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/belts2.html

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