Think, Before You Drive - Belt Up In The Back

Forty per cent of rear seat passengers and ten per cent of front seat occupants are still playing Russian roulette with their lives and others by not wearing seatbelts, according to the RAC Foundation as part of "Think Before You Drive Month".

Nine people die on the UK’s roads every day - the equivalent of seventeen passenger planes crashing with no survivors each year. This death toll could be reduced if more motorists carry out the basic safety checks as advocated in Think Before You Drive! Month.

Think Before You Drive! Month is a campaign promoted by the RAC Foundation in conjunction with the FIA Foundation and Bridgestone to help motorists understand the four easy steps they can take to improve safety on the roads.

While twenty first century cars and their components are safer than ever, providing high levels of control, safety and crash protection - thousands of drivers and their passengers are still injured, or die, each year because drivers fail to use safety systems, or to carry out simple routine checks.

As part of the Think Before You Drive Campaign, the RAC Foundation is calling on drivers and passengers to ensure they carry out basic routine checks in order to save lives and in particular that they always fasten their seat belts.

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • DfT figures show one in 10 drivers and front seat passengers do not belt up.
  • 81% consider it extremely unacceptable not wearing a seat belt in the front.
  • Always belt up in the back.
  • Four in 10 rear seat adults do not wear seatbelts.
  • 64% consider it extremely unacceptable not wearing a seat belt in the back.

The Foundation has slammed the excuses used by drivers and passengers for not wearing seat belts as "stupid and irresponsible". The Foundation has compiled a dossier of reactions given by drivers who admitted sometimes going without seat belts. Most said that they would wear a belt for a long journey but frequently either forgot or "couldn't be bothered" when they were travelling short distances.

Among the justifications given by unsecured drivers and passengers were:

  • I'm only going around the corner
  • I'm a good driver and don’t need one
  • They are uncomfortable because I am pregnant/overweight/ underweight/ too tall/too short.
  • They crease your clothes
  • Cars are so safe these days that they are unnecessary
  • You don’t need them in the back, do you?
  • My car is old and it’s not a legal requirement
  • It’s uncool
  • I’m working and in and out of the car. It’s too much hassle
  • I’m afraid I will get trapped in the car if it’s on fire in a crash
  • My safety’s my concern, no one else’s. I should have the right to choose.

In the UK the Department of Transport estimates that around 10 front seat passengers are killed annually by unbelted rear seat passengers hitting them in a crash - yet some motorists seem more concerned about not creasing their clothes then not cutting their faces.

In the past two decades the increased wearing of seat belts has saved:

  • 50,000 lives
  • 509,000 serious casualties
  • 1,590,000 minor casualties.

Edmund King, executive director, RAC Foundation, said : "Compliance appears to be a problem among some drivers and passengers who give pathetic excuses. Seat belts have saved countless lives. We are worried that some car occupants are still putting their lives at risk.

"Rear passengers who refuse to belt up not only risk killing themselves but also those in the front of the car. The seat belt has been one of the greatest contributions to road safety, now we need to convince and educate the sceptical and lazy of that.

"We hope that the Think Before You Drive! Campaign linked to better education combined with vigilant enforcement should help get the message across. None of the excuses given by motorists are valid. Your chances of getting out of a burning car are much greater if you wear a seat belt as you are more likely to be conscious rather than dead."

David Ward, director general of the FIA Foundation, said: "Seat belts are proven to be the simplest and most effective means for preventing death and serious injury in road crashes. There really is no excuse for not wearing your seat belt."

RAC Foundation seat belt fact file shows:

  • In a crash at 30 mph, a back seat passenger without a seat belt is thrown forward with the force of three and a half tonnes.
  • An unbelted back seat passenger travelling in a car at 30 mph when it crashes will continue travelling into the front seat at almost 30mph.
  • Unbelted back seat passengers are three times as likely to suffer death or serious injury as belted passengers.
  • Unbelted back seat passengers are likely to suffer chest injuries, broken ribs, broken hips, broken thighs, facial wounds, fractured skull or abdominal injuries, such as a ruptured spleen.
  • Seat belt wearing in the front saves over 2,200 lives every year.
27 July 2005 Staff

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