Road toll up as seatbelt wearing falls
More Kiwis are dying on the roads because they are neglecting to buckle up, police say.
The number of people killed on New Zealand roads while not wearing restraints has nearly doubled over the past two years, assistant commissioner of road policing Dave Cliff said. He described those deaths as ‘‘entirely preventable’’.
Between 2012 and 2014, there were about 57 deaths each year associated with non-restraint use. In 2015, that number nearly doubled, reaching 92. Last year, it increased again, to 100.
All police districts this year would be putting extra focus on ensuring seatbelts are worn, Cliff said.
‘‘We are at a loss to understand why there has been such a massive increase in people not wearing their seatbelts.
‘‘No part of New Zealand is immune. Crashes occur on our roads from one end of the country to the other and anyone who chooses not to wear a seatbelt only increases their risk of injury or death if they end up in one.’’
In 2016, the seatbelt wearing rate for drivers and adult front seat passengers was 96.5 per cent, down from the 97.1 per cent observed in 2014 – and the first time there has been a reduction in the wearing rate since 1996.
Of particular concern, Cliff said, was the increased number of females killed in crashes while not wearing a seatbelt. Females made up 19 per cent of deaths in 2012, and 28 per cent in 2016.
‘‘If people don’t listen up and get the message in 2017, we will likely see more than 100 people lose their lives and thousands more be injured completely needlessly. All this can be prevented by taking two seconds to put on your seatbelt, it’s that easy.’’
Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death by half for those in front seats, and 75 per cent for back seat passengers, he said.
Caroline Perry, director of road safety charity Brake, said wearing a seatbelt is ‘‘one of the most basic steps you can take’’ to reduce the risk of death or injury in the case of a car crash.
’’As a charity that supports bereaved families we see the devastation that road crashes cause.’’
Since November 2013, all child passengers up to 7 years of age have to be in an appropriate child restraint.
The provisional road toll for 2016 is 326. The road toll for 2015 was 319.
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