13/06/2001

‘BELT UP’ OR ‘PAY UP’ CAMPAIGN

THE launch of a new shock TV advertisement coincided with the release of a major survey commissioned by the NI Department of the Environment (DoE) on the wearing of seat belts in Northern Ireland.

The shock advertisement, which was aired for the first time on Wednesday June 13, is part of a campaign encouraging drivers in Ireland to ‘belt up’.

The advertisement, entitled ‘Damage’ is the third cross border safety campaign in the past two years, jointly commissioned by the National Safety Council and the DoE in NI and supported by AXA insurance.

The ‘Damage’ campaign has been designed to show that not wearing a seatbelt is one of the most selfish acts that any road user can commit. The creative strategy behind the ‘Damage’ campaign is based on the fact that too many people believe that wearing a seatbelt is a matter of personal choice. The advertisement challenges this perception by shocking audiences out of their complacency.

In order to encourage a rise in seat belt numbers, the Garda Síochána and the Royal Ulster Constabulary have embarked on a programme of on-the-spot-fines for non-wearing of seat belts. Car users will have a month to get familiar with the possibility of a £30 fine if they are caught not wearing their seat belt as of July 16 2001.

The major seat belt survey commission by the DoE in Northern Ireland, which coincides with the TV ad launch, shows that one in seven drivers and front seat passengers in NI still do not wear their seat belts and more than one in three of rear seat passengers regularly travel without a seatbelt.

Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister Sam Foster said: “If people travelling in cars in Northern Ireland always wore seat belts it is estimated that more than 20 lives would be saved and more than 250 serious injuries would be prevented each year.”

The survey reveals that overall wearing rates between 1995 and 2001 have steadily increased with the most dramatic increase recorded in back seat wearing rates which increased from 50 per cent to 67 per cent between 1995 and 2001.

Another trend recorded was that among all car occupants, females were more likely than males to use a seat belt. The greatest difference was among front seat passengers, with 88 per cent of females as compared to 76 per cent of males wearing a seatbelt.

The survey data was collected at 15 sites throughout Northern Ireland. In total 17,414 cars were observed and details of 27,256 occupants recorded. Of these 15 sites, six were located on rural roads, six on urban roads and three on motorways. (AMcE)

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