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In the fourth of a five-part series on Wairarapa’s road to zero fatal crashes, GIANINA SCHWANECKE looks at the importance of buckling up.

One of the more positive trends to emerge out of police data on driving offences was a decrease in the number of Wairarapa drivers penalised for not wearing their seatbelts.

The number of offences related to improper restraints decreased 38 per cent from July 2018 to June 2020.

However, Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said this was likely due to fewer people being on the roads during the covid-19 lockdown period.

“The decrease in seatbelt compliance offending was down over the covid-19 lockdown months in 2020, obviously due to the greatly decreased traffic volumes on our roads.”

There was a 40.5 per cent decrease in the number of offences related to improper restraints for the three months ended June this year compared with the same three-month period last year.

In the past year, police issued $86,100 worth of fines for improper seatbelt restraints.

There was a 43.1 per cent decrease on the number of fines issued from July 2019 to June 2020 compared with the year before.

Put simply, safety belts save lives, Pauling said.

“Wearing a safety belt reduces your chance of death or serious injury in a crash by 40 per cent.”

“They support you if you’re in a crash or when a vehicle stops suddenly.

“Whether you sit in the front or the back seat, the risk of serious or fatal injury is virtually the same.

“The force on safety belts can be as much as 20 times your weight – this is how hard you’d hit the inside of your vehicle without restraint.”

He said it was especially important for drivers to make sure that children under seven years of age were properly restrained by an approved child restraint that was appropriate for the age and size of the child.

“Kids have no say in whether they are safe in vehicles.”

It’s your responsibility as the driver to make sure they’re safe, he said.

Tomorrow: Driving under the influence.



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