Too many Ki­wis still not wear­ing seat­belts

Waitaki Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

STAFF RE­PORTER

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.

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