Third of road deaths caused by not buck­ling up

Hauraki Herald - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID LIN­KLATER

A new study spear­headed by the AA Re­search Foun­da­tion has re­vealed that up to 30 per cent of road deaths in New Zealand could have been pre­vented by the wear­ing of seat­belts.

The study, which was un­der­taken in con­junc­tion with the Min­istry of Trans­port, NZ Po­lice, NZ Trans­port Agency and ACC, took a de­tailed look at 200 deaths that oc­curred over the last decade.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also looked into the his­tory of those caught not wear­ing seat­belts. One of the ma­jor find­ings was that such deaths were not in just one group, or in­deed those that most might think of as high-risk.

‘‘When we an­a­lysed the 200 deaths to un­der­stand the types of peo­ple in­volved, we found that along with the young, risky driv­ers that peo­ple might ex­pect to fea­ture, the other com­mon groups were peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas, peo­ple driv­ing for work, the el­derly and tourists,’’ says AA re­search man­ager Si­mon Dou­glas.

‘‘The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple wear their seat­belt, yet up to 30 per cent of ve­hi­cle oc­cu­pant deaths in re­cent years haven’t been buck­led up. The re­search aimed to build a much greater un­der­stand­ing of who it was be­ing in­volved in these crashes.’’ Other key find­ings were:

On av­er­age over the last decade, 26 per cent of ve­hi­cle oc­cu­pants who died in crashes were not wear­ing a seat­belt.

83.5 per cent of deaths where some­one wasn’t wear­ing a seat­belt oc­curred on ru­ral roads.

53.5 per cent of un­re­strained deaths in­volved al­co­hol.

36.5 per cent of un­re­strained deaths in­volved fa­tigue.

58 per cent of peo­ple caught by po­lice not wear­ing a seat­belt have at least one pre­vi­ous seat­belt of­fence.

‘‘It’s mys­ti­fy­ing that in NZ the rate of peo­ple dy­ing while not buck­led up is much higher than in other countries like Aus­tralia,’’ Dou­glas says.

‘‘The AA sees solv­ing the seat­belt rid­dle as a vi­tal part of re­duc­ing road deaths.

‘‘Far too of­ten we are see­ing crashes where mul­ti­ple peo­ple are in a car and the ones with seat­belts only suf­fer bruises and

Ru­ral driv­ers and the el­derly emerged as sur­pris­ing non-seat­belt wear­ers in the study. But there’s no one group, says AA.

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