Too many Kiwis still not wearing seatbelts
More than eight out of ten road deaths involving people not wearing seatbelts occurred on rural roads, a new study has found.
The study, spearheaded by the AA Research Foundation, 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 restricted to just one group - or indeed those that most might think of as high-risk groups.
‘‘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,’’ said 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 said.
‘‘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 scrapes, while someone who isn’t buckled up dies.’’
The research is a first step in tackling our seatbelt problem and, now that there is a better understanding of the types of people involved, it will help better guide efforts to change their behaviour.’’
Matthew Bergman crashed his car in July last year, and says wearing his seatbelt saved his life.