ETSC calls for compulsory seat belt reminders

12.00 | 29 April 2014 | | 3 comments

A new report which looks at car occupant safety shows that 12,345 car occupants were fatally injured in the EU in 2012, and suggests that 900 lives could be saved every year if manufacturers were required to fit seat-belt reminder sensors to front and rear passenger seats.

The report, “Ranking EU Progress on Car Occupant Safety”, has been published by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC). It is based on analysis of EU data overseen by a panel of 32 road safety experts from across Europe. It also estimates that 8,600 car occupants survived severe collisions in 2012 because they were wearing a seatbelt.

The European Commission is currently revising vehicle safety rules with new proposals expected next year but the ETSC is calling on the EU to “accelerate progress on reducing the number of people killed in cars every year in the EU”.

ETSC says that despite improvements in vehicle safety, “drink driving and inappropriate speed are still contributing to many deaths on European roads”. It estimates that 5,600 deaths, half of them in cars, could be prevented annually by eliminating drink driving and a further 1,300 if the average speed on all roads was cut by just 1km/h.

ETSC is calling on the EU to mandate the use of alcohol interlocks for repeat drink driving offenders and for better enforcement of speed limits across all member states.

Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC, said: “Simple measures like seat belt reminders in front and rear passenger seats, better enforcement of speed limits, and measures to prevent repeat drink drivers from getting behind the wheel could put the EU’s target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020 firmly within reach.”

The report highlights Spain and Latvia as having made strong progress in cutting car occupant deaths. The introduction of penalty point systems was cited as being “an important component in an array of measures taken to improve safety in those countries”.

Countries with historically good performance including Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden have also managed to continue their good progress and are now the safest countries ranked in terms of car occupant deaths per billion vehicle-km travelled.


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    The reminder rings for too long and people disconnect the reminder intentionally by using the seatbelt without wearing it or by disconnecting it electrically. There is many more deaths because of diabetes or God knows what else is in the food beside the high dose of sugars in drinks, donuts, cakes and candies. Yet there is no mandatory regulation about the use of sugar nor any disciplinary action being taken for years.

    Roberto di Lavinio
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    From reading the report the 900 figure is calculated based on achieving 99% wearing rates. Looking at the figures it would also be safe to assume they have only included collisions where the seatbelt could reasonably be expected to have prevented the occupant receiving fatal injuries.

    Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire
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    Seat belt reminders don’t seem to work all that well in America, Africa and Asia. The most common ‘fix’ I’ve seen is to put the passenger seatbelt clip into the driver’s side buckle.

    The reminder might work in that small number of cases where a driver does genuinely forget to put their belt on, but I suspect that is a very small number and not sufficient to account for the 900 potential savings.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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