Wairarapa Road Policing Sergeant Tim Crum urges people to buckle up. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

Last week, Wairarapa was reminded to buckle up as Wellington and Wairarapa police ran a seatbelt compliance campaign in the region.

Police took to Wairarapa roads to spot drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts with 56 offences spotted over five days ending Friday.

This was a substantial drop from phase one of the project which rolled out in November where 117 notices were issued for offences.

Wairarapa Road Policing Sergeant Tim Crum said it has been said for years that “seatbelts save lives”.

“Everybody knows it, but people tend to get a little bit lax and forget about it,” he said.

“If they were at the pointy end of the stick and were dealing with the consequences of people not wearing seatbelts, with fatal and serious injury crashes, it would certainly change their opinion very quickly.”

Crum said front seat passengers and drivers were 60 per cent less likely to be killed in a crash if they were wearing a seatbelt, and back seat passengers were 44 per cent less likely to be killed.

“Wairarapa historically hasn’t been the greatest of places for seatbelt compliance.

“I’ve attended one fatal crash already this year where the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.

“If you are driving a vehicle that has a seatbelt in it, you should be wearing it.”

He said the seatbelt compliance campaign targeted incorrect seatbelt use which was one of the four “biggest killers” on New Zealand roads.

Others were driver impairment – alcohol or drugs, fatigue, and distractions – mobile phone use or passengers fighting.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said it was great to see the Wairarapa community taking on board the messaging around seatbelt use.

“While it’s surprising to see any local drivers still not taking their safety seriously, the vast majority of Wairarapa folk know that seatbelts save lives and are buckling up,” he said.

“Crashes happen in an instant, and seatbelts for drivers and their passengers are essential.

“It’s also so important that the ‘littlies’ are taught this from a very early age, so it becomes a natural thing to do when they get into a motor vehicle.”

“Please buckle up-everybody-every trip-every time.”