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A stock image of a seatbelt. Alamy Stock Photo
Road Safety

RSA survey finds that seatbelt use by drivers and front-seat passengers declined last year

The decline in seatbelt usage is reported as road accidents in Ireland are on the rise.

A ROAD SAFETY Authority (RSA) survey has found that seatbelt use by drivers and front seat passengers has declined from 2022 to 2023.

The RSA is urging drivers and passengers to always wear their seatbelts, as research finds a 4% drop-off for drivers since 2022.

A European survey conducted in 2023 found that one in ten reported driving, and travelling as a front seat passenger, without wearing a seatbelt. One in five back-seat passengers were found to travel without a seatbelt.

This research was a manual observational study of seat belt wearing of drivers and passengers conducted in September-October 2023. A nationally representative sample was used and observations took place in all 26 counties.

Key findings from the study include the decrease of seatbelt-wearing rates by drivers by 4% (from 99% to 95%) when compared to 2022. 

A 5% decrease was recorded for front seat passengers (from 99%-94%). While rear-seat passenger seat belt wearing rates increased overall by 2% (from 93-95%), compliance was lower (92%) for those travelling on rural roads.

The research comes as accidents on Irish roads are continuously on the rise. In March, it was reported that road deaths in Ireland were rising faster than almost everywhere else in the EU.

RSA analysis of Irish collision data shows that 22% of car users killed between 2019 and 2023 were not wearing a seatbelt. 7% of car users who were reported to have been seriously injured in the same timeframe were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. 

Minister for State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers, said that he was concerned to see the decline in seatbelt use.

“It is a very real risk and potential killer behaviour which increases the likelihood of a driver or passenger being killed or seriously injured,” he said. “Drivers need to take responsibility for themselves and their passengers.

Seatbelts save lives, and choosing not to wear one is not only dangerous, but selfish too.”

CEO of the RSA, Sam Waide, said that seatbelts are “proven lifesavers”, and that it was alarming to see a decline in usage.

“They protect both those who wear them, and other people in the vehicle, as an unbelted person can impact with and seriously injure others in the event of a collision,” he said.

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