A survey of seat belt wearing rates has highlighted an apparent 5% reduction in the use of restraints by children in cars – from 96% in 2009 to 91% in 2014.
The survey was carried out at 40 sites across England and 20 sites in Scotland, by TRL on behalf of the DfT.
Observers recorded the restraint being used by each vehicle occupant – seat belt, rear facing baby seat, child seat, booster seat, booster cushion or unrestrained. Restraints that were being used incorrectly – for example not fastened correctly, or an incorrectly fitted child car seat – were classified as unrestrained.
95.3% of all drivers, 94.6% of all front seat passengers and 90.3% of all rear seat passengers were observed using seat belts. The proportion of car drivers (98.2%) and car front seat passengers (96.7%) using belts was higher than for all vehicle types.
While restraint wearing rates for car drivers was similar in both England and Scotland, the proportion of car front seat passengers observed wearing a seat belt or child restraint was higher in Scotland (98.3%) than in England (96.1%). In addition, the rate for car rear seat passengers in Scotland (99.1%) was significantly higher than in England (87.7%).
While the DfT says the results of this survey are not directly comparable to the results from the previous seat belt surveys, it goes on to say “since 1999, the wearing rate for car drivers and front seat passengers has risen slowly from a relatively high rate”.
However, while the wearing rate for child car rear seat passengers increased slowly between 1999 and 2009, the rate recorded in England in 2014 was five percentage points lower than in 2009 – down to 91% from 96%.
Since 1999, the proportion of adult car rear seat passengers wearing a seat belt has increased steadily from 54% in 1999 to 81% in 2014.