31/10/2001

DoE survey shows more people “belting up”

As a result of this summer’s seatbelts TV campaign and a stepping up of enforcement by the RUC, more people are belting up according to figures just out from the Department of Environment.

The most recent Northern Ireland Seatbelts Survey, carried out at the start of October has shown that, since the last survey taken in April this year, the seatbelt wearing rate for all car occupants has increased by three percentage points from 84 per cent to 87 per cent.

Environment Minister, Sam Foster, who welcomed the findings of the survey, said: “Most people have embraced the message ‘No Seatbelt No Excuse’. Such a marked increase in seatbelt wearing in a short period of time is a clear indication that people are facing up to their responsibilities as car occupants. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that front and back seat passenger wearing rates are now at their highest since the current survey series began in 1994.”

However, the minister also warned of complacency. He added: “Although 87 per cent of car occupants now wear seatbelts, 13 per cent do not. In the back, almost 30 per cent do not wear restraints - in the 14-59 age group only 55 per cent belt up. This is inexcusable, selfish and dangerous and will lead to needless pain, suffering and death.”

Superintendent Ian Hamill, head of the RUC’s Road Policing Development Branch, also warned that the policy of issuing £30 fixed penalty for drivers not wearing their seatbelt was now strongly in force. He said: “Since the new campaign stepped up in June the RUC advised drivers that the practice of mainly giving advice and warnings would expire. There was a month’s grace before the new £30 fixed penalty more robust policy was applied.

“Over the past three months (July-September) some 3,355 fixed penalty notices were issued. That is around 50 per cent up on the 2,240 issued from March to May. We believe that this approach, coupled with the high impact television and cinema commercial produced by the DOE, is beginning to be reflected positively in the survey results. Remember, from a policing point of view the message is simple – ‘No Seatbelt No Excuse’.” (AMcE)

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