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Seat Belts

Volume 173: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the wearing of seat belts by drivers and front-seat passengers in Northern Ireland.

Lives should be saved if all drivers and front-seat passengers wear their seat belts. The Northern Ireland seat belt survey, based on data collected in August 1989, indicates a gradual decline in seat belt usage since May 1983 when 92 per cent. of car drivers wore belts compared with the most recent results when 84 per cent. of observed front-seat passengers were wearing seat belts. Seat belts usage overall in Northern Ireland is lower than the rest of the United Kingdom; 81 per cent. of all observed drivers of all vehicle types in Northern Ireland wore seat belts, compared with a 93 per cent. usage rate of all driver observed in Great Britain.In addition to the evidence produced by the survey, RUC statistics for 1988 showed that in those cases of front-seat fatalities where it was possible to determine whether seat belts had been worn almost half of those killed were not wearing seat belts.Failure by front-seat occupants to wear seat belts is against the law though there are certain exemptions. The RUC, in the light of the recent report, will be increasing its vigilance to detect law breakers and to advise and protect them from the folly of their actions.We shall continue to draw attention to the dangers of failing to wear seat belts within our programme of road casualty reduction.