Wear it or wear the cost: Current seatbelt wearing rates in Queensland.
Keywords: Vehicle Safety
Observational seatbelt wearing studies are a valuable tool for obtaining up-to-date information about rates of use. Given that one quarter of vehicle occupants killed on Queensland roads in recent years were not wearing seatbelts, it is important that authorities are able to identify non-wearers and take steps to increase compliance with seatbelt laws to reduce the severity of crashes and, therefore, the road toll. An observational study of seatbelt use was conducted in metropolitan, regional and rural locations throughout Queensland in May and June, 2010. Trained observers took note of seatbelt use of all occupants of passenger vehicles, noting their gender, approximate age group, seating position, vehicle type, licence type (i.e. visible L or P plates), mobile phone use, and the date, time and location of the observation. Of 19,579 observations, 99.04% (19,391) of occupants were observed wearing seatbelts, as only 0.96% of occupants (188) were not wearing a seatbelt. There were differences in seatbelt wearing rates for a number of study variables, although most were very small. However, seatbelt wearing rates were 3.84% lower for drivers observed using a mobile phone than for those who were not. While compliance with seatbelt laws seems to be very high, it is still concerning that so few non-wearers represent a disproportionately large proportion of road fatalities and serious injuries in Queensland. Road safety authorities must therefore continue to find ways to improve seatbelt use, as small gains in wearing rates will translate into significant fatality reductions.