28/06/2004

Number of people wearing seatbelts increases

The number of people wearing seat belts in Northern Ireland has increased over the past year, figures have revealed.

According to the yearly survey commissioned by the DoE, 91% of drivers and 90% of passengers were recorded as wearing a seat belt for the year April 2003-04, an increase of 1%.

The overall seat belt wearing rate for back seat passengers of 77% disguises different wearing rates for adults (14 years and over) and children (13 years and under), with 67% of adults wearing a seat, compared to 83% of children. Both these figures compare favourably with April 2003, when 64% of adults and 81% of children wore a seatbelt in the back.

However, while children under one year of age have the highest back seat restraint wearing rate (98%), only 64% of 14 to 29 year olds wear sear belts, while around one in four children (23%) aged between 5 and 13 years travel unrestrained in the back seat.

Commenting on today's figures, Environment Minister Angela Smith said: "I am amazed and very disappointed that significant numbers of parents continue to flout the law by exposing their children to the risks of travelling unrestrained in a car. 22% of children aged between 10 and 13 years of age, 23% of children aged between five and nine, 12% of children aged between one and four and 2% of children under one year, continue to travel unrestrained in the back of a car.

"This is simply staggering given that an unrestrained child is two and a half times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash.

"Given this alarming fact, I urge all parents to take responsibility for the safety of their children. My message to those parents who do not yet ensure that their children wear seat belts, is that your child needs to be properly protected."

In total, 17,044 cars were observed and details of 26,047 occupants recorded at 15 sites throughout Northern Ireland in the survey. Of these 15 sites, six were located on rural roads, six on urban roads and three on motorways.

(MB)

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