Figures from the Northern Ireland Survey of Seat Belt Wearing published today show that, while overall seat belt wearing rates remain high at 98%, around 6% of back seat passengers are still not using a seat belt or other suitable restraint.
Whilst this is still a major improvement from 1994 when only around one in two back street passengers were properly restrained, this figure has not improved any since the previous year.
Of those passengers travelling in the back, adults were less likely to wear a restraint than children.
Five per cent of children aged 10-13, 6% of those aged 5-9 and 3% of those aged 1-4 were unrestrained when travelling in the back of a car.
Environment minister Alex Attwood said: “I acknowledge the news that seat belt wearing rates have been maintained at historically high levels. Many people are alive today that would not had we still been seeing the wearing rates of just a few years ago.
“It is very worrying though that 6% of back seat passengers still don’t belt up.
“Seat belts save lives in collisions and everyone should be properly restrained. In the event of a collision, anyone who is not wearing a seat belt will continue to move at the same speed at which the vehicle was moving and will either hit the interior or be thrown out.
Alex Attwood continued:
“If you are sitting in the front of a car, simply clicking that belt into place will make it almost 50% less likely that you will die if involved in a collision. If you are in the back, you will be 25% less likely to die in a collision. For children aged between one and seven using an appropriate child restraint reduces the risk of injury by 70% over using a seat belt alone.
“I want everyone to get the message that there really is no excuse for not wearing your seatbelt or not to take responsibility for ensuring your children are safe. So remember, NO SEATBELT NO EXCUSE.”