South too slow to belt up

Southland lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to belting up in the back seat - and the province's statistics are probably dragged down by the Gore region.

Road Safety Southland, along with ACC and the police, are running a belt-up campaign in Gore and the surrounding district this month, involving focused enforcement and a survey of residents.

The latest Ministry of Transport adult rear-seat passenger survey showed only 64 per cent of adult back-seat passengers in Southland wore seatbelts, compared with a national average of 89 per cent.

Road Safety Southland Community adviser Jane Ballantyne said Southland's low percentage of adult back-seat safety belt compliance was to some extent dragged down by the statistics from the Gore region, which had only 53 per cent compliance.

But that was no excuse for the rest of Southland to become complacent.

Southland strategic traffic unit Senior Sergeant Kerrin Price said seatbelt offenders tended to be high-risk road users and were more likely to have committed other offences such as speeding.

Seatbelt effectiveness was directly related to speeding behaviour, in that the higher the travel speed, the greater the injury potential and the need for protection in a crash, Snr Sgt Price said.

Increasing the level of seatbelt use required a co-ordinated approach, involving education, engineering and enforcement measures.

Ms Ballantyne said research had found habit was the main reason for people buckling up in the back seat.

People felt a false sense of security in the back seat.

The risk of death to front-seat passengers who were wearing seatbelts increased by 400 per cent when someone in the back seat had not put their seatbelt on, Ms Ballantyne said.

According to the transport ministry website, wearing a seatbelt reduces your chance of death or serious injury in a crash by 40 per cent whether you sit in the back or front seat.

During the past six months in Southland, three back-seat passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt at the time the vehicle they were in crashed, were killed.

In New Zealand, more than 30 lives would be saved each year if people wore their safety belts.

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