Driving Seat Belts Save Lives – But there is still a reluctance to use them Posted on 15th March 2019 6 min read “…almost a quarter of vehicle occupants choose not to use a seat belt” “…almost a quarter of the people aged 12 or over who lost their lives were not wearing a seat belt” All this week, and through the weekend, the DGT is running an intensified surveillance campaign focussing on the use of seat belts, child restraint systems and crash helmets. The campaign is running across much of Europe, overseen by the international traffic police network, TISPOL. In Spain, all occupants in a vehicle must wear a seat belt, and this seat belt must be worn properly to be effective, and legal. If there isn´t a seat belt available, then a passenger cannot be carried. Children under 135cm tall must sit in the rear seats and in an approved child restraint system suitable for them. Crash helmets are mandatory on motorbikes and scooters for all riders. The seat belt is the most effective passive safety element in vehicles and the one that has saved the most lives. According to the data of the ESRA project (Survey of Attitudes of Road Users), carried out in 38 countries, only 80% of people in Spain declared that they have used the seat belt as a driver during driving in the last year, 81% admit having used it as a passenger in the front seat of the car and just 70% as a passenger in the rear seats of the car. The data shows that although its use is mandatory for all vehicle occupants, there remains a reluctance, with the data showing that almost a quarter of vehicle occupants choose not to use a seat belt. Given that data, we can then compare that to road traffic incident figures, and we see that in 2017, the last complete year for which data is available, almost a quarter of the people aged 12 or over who lost their lives were not wearing a seat belt, the actual percentage being 24%, a remarkable comparison. For its part, the World Health Organisation (WHO), also includes in its reports, the importance of the use of the seat belt and calls for countries to include the mandatory use of seat belts in legislation. Approximately 105 countries of the world population have laws that require the use of the seat belt by all occupants of a vehicle, but that is still only 67%. If it is important that adults use seat belts, and is crucial in the case of children. Adults can make the choice; children learn by example and follow the instructions of the adult when it comes to such matters. In 2017, 5 of the 17 children under 12 years of age who were travelling in cars or vans were not wearing a seat belt, a fact for which the adults were ultimately responsible. Spanish legislation requires that children under 135 cm in height who travel by vehicle, in addition to travelling with the child restraint system appropriate to their size and weight as required, must be seated in the rear seats of vehicles, except: When the vehicle does not have rear seats When all the rear seats are already occupied by other children of the same characteristics. When it is not possible to install all the child restraint systems in said rear seats. Only in these cases can children occupy the front seat of the vehicle, but always using the restraint system approved to their size and weight. Child restraint systems must always be installed in the vehicle in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.