Seatbelts and restraints - get the facts

Wearing a seatbelt significantly improves your chances of surviving a crash.

While wearing a seatbelt or restraint does not prevent a crash, it can certainly improve the outcome for drivers and passengers.

Wearing a properly adjusted restraint reduces the risk of fatal or serious injury by half1. In 2013, there were 271 fatalities and 6,921 people taken to hospital as a result of crashes on Queensland roads. Of those, 35 died and 155 people were taken to hospital as a result of not wearing a seatbelt or an appropriate restraint.

The facts

  • Drivers and passengers are around 8 times more likely to be killed in a road crash if they are not wearing a seatbelt2.
  • People aged between 30-39 years, particularly men, were the most frequently unrestrained vehicle occupants killed in 20113.
  • Alcohol is linked to the lack of seatbelt use4.
  • The driver of a vehicle is responsible for the proper restraint of all passengers5.
  • Children aged up to 7 years must use a child restraint suitable for their age6.

Risky behaviour

These days, most people don’t think twice about buckling-up. In a 2015 survey of 1,500 Queensland drivers, only 9% of people reported that they did not wear a seatbelt7. Those who admit to not wearing a seatbelt are more likely to be:

  • men aged under 40
  • driving in city locations8.

A simple action that could save your life

It takes no time to put your seatbelt on and it could save your life. It could also prevent long-term injuries and suffering. The main functions of a seatbelt are to:

  • cause the occupant to decelerate at the same rate as the vehicle in a crash, maximising the distance over which the occupant comes to a stop
  • spread the force of the impact over the stronger parts of the occupant’s body (pelvis and chest area)
  • prevent the occupant colliding with the interior parts of the vehicle
  • reduce the risk of being thrown from the vehicle
  • reduce the risk of being thrown through the windscreen9.

Even at low speed, not wearing a seatbelt can result in serious injury and death. A crash at 40km/h has the same force as falling from a two storey building onto concrete10.

The penalty in Queensland for not wearing a seatbelt is $365 and three demerit points. Double demerit points will apply for second or subsequent offences within 1 year of an earlier offence.


Myth busters

“If it’s a short trip, I don’t need to wear a seatbelt”

It doesn’t matter if you’re only travelling around the corner, all drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt or an approved child restraint. Most road crashes happen close to home. Even at low speeds, not wearing a seatbelt can result in serious injury or death11.

“Seatbelts make getting out of a vehicle difficult in a crash”

If you’re not wearing a seatbelt you have a greater chance of being knocked unconscious, making it impossible to get yourself out of the vehicle. Besides, you’ll suffer more severe injuries and possibly die if you’re flung from the vehicle.

“I don’t need to wear a seatbelt if my car is fitted with airbags”

Airbags do not replace seatbelts. Seatbelts hold the occupant in the correct position to maximise the effectiveness of airbags, which are intended to supplement the seatbelt12.

“Truckies don’t need to wear seatbelts so they’ll be ‘thrown clear’ from the truck in the event of a crash”

Seatbelts are mandatory in all heavy vehicles and design regulations have been improved to make seatbelts more comfortable in trucks. Heavy vehicle drivers involved in a crash are six times more likely to die if not wearing a seatbelt13.


Tips for safe, smart seatbelt use

  • Wear your seatbelt every time you drive, even if you’re only travelling a few kilometres. Most road crashes happen close to home because this is where we drive most frequently.
  • Make sure everyone in your car is safely restrained before moving your vehicle.
  • Make sure your seatbelts and child restraints are correctly fitted.
  • Regularly check your seatbelts to make sure they’re safe and working well. Check the belts for any wear and tear, and that they click into place properly.
  • Pregnant women should wear seatbelts at all times. If the mother does not wear a seatbelt, any blows sustained in a car crash will be transmitted to the unborn child and result in severe injury or death. The seatbelt is best positioned under the abdomen, below the front bony part of the hips and across the upper thighs. The sash should sit between the breasts.

Child restraints

Ensuring children are properly restrained in the car is one of the most important things you can do for their safety and well-being. Buckling-up is one part of the equation, but knowing which type of child restraint is appropriate and how to use it properly, is equally important.

Some things to consider

Further information about child restraints can be found on the TMR website at: www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Driver-guide/Child-restraints


References
  1. NHTSA. (2001). Fifth/Sixth Report to Congress: Effectiveness of Occupant Protection Systems and Their Use. (Report No. DOT HS 809 442). Washington, DC: Author. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov search: DOT HS 809442 Accessed 08/07/15.
  2. Department of Transport and Main Roads (2015). Figures are based on the crashes validated in the Queensland Road Crash Information System from 1 January 2007 –to 31 December 2011. Report reference number: rqC19729. Data extracted 23/02/15.
  3. Department of Transport and Main Roads (2012). 2011 Fatal Road Traffic Crashes in Queensland: A report on the road toll. P.60. www.tmr.qld. gov.au/Safety/Transport-and-road-statistics/Road-safety-statistics. aspx. Accessed 06/02/15.
  4. Ball, C.G., Kirkpatrick, A.W., & Brennaman, F. D. (2005). Noncompliance with seat-belt use in patients involved in motor vehicle collisions. Canadian Journal of Surgery 48(5) Pp. 367-372.
  5. Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 Sections 264(1), 265(3) & 266(1). www.legislation.qld.gov.au/ LEGISLTN/CURRENT/T/TrantOpRURR09.pdf. Accessed 06/02/15.
  6. Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 Section 266(2, 2A, 2B). www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/ CURRENT/T/TrantOpRURR09.pdf. Accessed 06/02/15.
  7. Footprints Market Research (2015). Understanding Risky Driving Behaviour: Research with Queensland Drivers 2014 - 2015. Page 32. Research undertaken for Department of Transport and Main Roads & BCM Partnership, Brisbane.
  8. Department of Transport and Main Roads (2015). Figures are based on the casualties validated in the Queensland Road Crash Information System from 1 January 2009 –to 31 December 2013. Report reference number: rqC19156. Data extracted 18/07/14.
  9. Australian Academy of Science (2009). Nova Science in the News: Death-defying designs for car safety. www.sciencearchive.org.au/ nova/057/057key.html. Accessed 06/02/15.
  10. Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) (2012). State of the Road: Seat Belts Fact Sheet. www.carrsq.qut.edu. au/publications/corporate/seat_belts_fs.pdf. Accessed 06/02/15.
  11. Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) (2012). State of the Road: Seat Belts Fact Sheet. www.carrsq.qut.edu. au/publications/corporate/seat_belts_fs.pdf. Accessed 06/02/15.
  12. Department of Transport and Main Roads (2013). Better buckle up seatbelts campaign fact sheet. www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Safety-campaigns/Seatbelts.aspx. Accessed 06/02/15.
  13. Department of Transport and Main Roads and Road Freight Industry Council (2009). Seatbelt myths and misconceptions. Extract from “One click could change your future – supporting safe and caring communities” Brochure cited on Queensland Trucking Association website: http://www.qta.com.au/Seat-Belts. Accessed 06/02/15.

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