Numbers not in seatbelts 'concerning'

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Police data showed 21,962 people were fined $150 for driving without a seatbelt in the last seven years in the Bay, totalling almost $3.2 million in fines.
Police data showed 21,962 people were fined $150 for driving without a seatbelt in the last seven years in the Bay, totalling almost $3.2 million in fines.

About 22,000 people have been caught not wearing seatbelts in Hawke's Bay since 2009 - an "extremely concerning" figure, according to a road safety advocate.

Police data showed 21,962 people were fined $150 for driving without a seatbelt in the last seven years in the Bay, totalling almost $3.2 million in fines.

Last year, 2050 people were caught - the lowest year of the period, down from more than 4000 in 2009. But Road Safe Hawke's Bay manager Linda Anderson said the number of people choosing not to wear a seatbelt was still far too high.

"It's extremely concerning. We've had enough incidents of crashes of unrestrained vehicle occupants, which is a sharp reminder to people," she said.

"We're always very pleased that it is dropping, and I think a lot of that is around the joint work we're doing with our key stakeholders, which is police."

A Ministry of Transport report found 32 of the 92 unrestrained road fatalities last year nationwide may have survived had the victims wore seatbelts. Sixteen of these fatalities "very probably" could have been avoided. The 92 fatalities was a significant spike from the three years prior, when an average of 57 people died in road accidents while unrestrained.

Ms Anderson said she hoped this figure would drop as more young people were taught to wear a seatbelt every time they were in a car.

"I absolutely don't understand why people don't - particularly if you're in a vehicle with young children, you should be modelling that behaviour."

She said a fine may be the only thing to convince a sector of people who consistently choose not to buckle up.

"Whether more education is the answer ... I'm not sure. Those who consistently don't wear their seatbelts, I think enforcement's probably the influencer really."

A two-week long nationwide police sting called Operation Habit cracked down on those not buckling up or using their mobile phone while driving. The operation finished on Sunday.

"It takes next to no time to put on a seatbelt and wearing one could save your life in a crash," road policing national manager Superintendent Steve Greally said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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