RAC Cars News


Failure To Wear Seatbelts Risking Lives Of Children

By raccars Published

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The Department for Transport has revealed that an increase in road deaths and serious injuries in children is almost certainly caused by a decrease in seatbelt wearing. The Department's study showed that almost 10% of children regularly ride in cars without wearing seatbelts.

While seatbelt wearing in children increased slowly but steadily from 1999-2009, since then the number of children being properly restrained during travel has dropped 5%, from 96% to 91%. Over the same period, adult compliance rose from 54% in 1999 to 81%.

The situation is worst among the 10-13 age group, with 12.5% unlikely to be restrained in a car. Last year, the DfT posted the first rise for 20 years in the number of road deaths and serious injuries in children, which motoring groups and experts believe is largely due to the failure to restrain child passengers properly, and parents are getting the blame.

The DfT's investigation covered 60 sites in England and 20 in Scotland and included children up to the age of 13.The problem is spread between parents who fail to correctly fit a child seat and those who don't ensure older children wear seatbelts in the back of the car. The overall rate of restraint among child passengers was 93.3%, meaning 6.7% of children surveyed were not wearing seatbelts. Breaking those figures down, 8.4% of those aged one to four, 6.9% of the five to nine age group, and 5.4% of ten to 13 year olds were travelling in the front seats without restraints.

In the back seats, one in 13 or 7.4% overall were unrestrained, breaking down to 2.3% of children up to a year old, 7.2% aged between one and four, 7.9% of children aged between five and nine and 12.2% of ten to 13 year olds.

Motoring groups are concerned not only about the immediate threat to child safety during every journey undertaken without a seatbelt, but also by how the poor example set by parents could influence children as they grow up and become drivers.

While evidence linking the rise in serious injuries and deaths to children in road accidents to a failure to properly restrain them in cars is anecdotal, rather than proven, motoring groups and the Department for Transport are convinced that this is no coincidence. As a result, the Department for Transport has decided to investigate further.

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