Brake voices concern over young drivers and seat belts

09.00 | 31 January 2019 |

Image: Brake

Nearly 50% of young drivers have recent experience of being in a car with someone not wearing a seat belt, a new survey suggests.

The survey, which canvassed the views of 2,000 drivers, has been published by Brake today (31 Jan) to mark the 36th anniversary of legislation which made it mandatory to wear a seat belt in the front seats of a car.

49% of respondents aged between 18-24 years admitted to being in a car with someone not belted up in the past year – around three times higher than older drivers.

Josh Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said: “Seat belt wearing became compulsory almost 40 years ago and so it comes as a real shock to hear half of young drivers admit they’ve been in a car with someone not belted up in the past year.”

DfT figures show that 27% of the 787 car occupants who died in 2017 were not wearing seat belts – compared to 20% in 2016.

Brake says these figures indicate that non-seat belt use is on the increase, adding that the answer to the problem lies with the safe systems approach – where vehicles are designed to eliminate risk through technology.

European legislation is currently being passed which will make seat belt reminder systems mandatory for all seats in new cars from later this year – a move backed by 80% of respondents to the Brake survey.

Josh Harris said: “Soon we will see seat belt reminders made mandatory on all seats in new cars – a great step forward.

“Unfortunately, we’ve found that young people are most exposed to this issue and they are far less likely to be purchasing new vehicles.

“We need the Government to target safety campaigns at the younger generation to make sure they hear loud and clear that seat belts save lives.

“Ultimately every death on the road is preventable but a death of someone not wearing a seat belt could so easily be avoided.”

The RAC says it is difficult to comprehend why a driver of any age would choose not to wear a seat belt and put themselves at risk.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesperson, said: “Perhaps young drivers feel they are so cocooned in modern vehicles that boast a myriad of safety features that they don’t need to worry about the basics like using a seatbelt, and it might also explain why many people continue to believe they can safely multitask while driving, like using a handheld mobile phone.

“Younger drivers are disproportionately involved in accidents and these findings should perhaps be a prompt to the Government to try and understand on a deeper level why this is the case and what can be done the reduce collision rates among drivers of this age.”



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