The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) has stepped up its public education drive aimed at getting motorists and passengers to buckle up while driving.
The NRSC’s efforts come against the increase in the number of road fatalities, involving both drivers and passengers, who were not wearing seatbelts. Driving without a seatbelt is a breach of the Road Safety Act.
The public education thrust will comprise radio, television and print advertisements, emphasising the importance of seatbelt use.
Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher, pointed out that there is a “fair enough practice of seatbelt use at the front of motor vehicles, but not at the back”, which the Council is seeking to change.
“What we have come to realise is that persons travelling in the back of motor vehicles often do not wear seatbelts, which poses great danger to those seated at the front, especially if there is a crash. They are normally thrown forward forcefully, more than three times their body weight, through the windscreen, window, or door, depending on the dynamics of the crash,” she explained.
She is also emphasising the need for increased seatbelt use among children, who are often victims of motor vehicle collisions.
“There is a tendency for adults to hold children in their laps, while driving in a car, not knowing that they are putting their lives at risk, in case of a crash,” Mrs. Fletcher said.
She noted that in the event of a collision, and the adult is hit and thrown forward, there is a natural tendency for the arms to open, and immediately, the child will be released, and flung from the vehicle, which is often fatal.
She is urging parents to utilise appropriate car seats, booster cushions, lap straps and shoulder harnesses, as safety devices for children, while transporting them.
She mentioned that for buses, the law requires seatbelt use for persons traveling in the front of the vehicle but not at the back, while for taxis and regular vehicles, seatbelts must be used by both front and back passengers.
The NRSC Director warned that if motorists and passengers do not comply with the seatbelt law, they can be penalised under the law and will be required to pay a fee of $2,500.
“We want motorists and passengers to know that the law requires them to wear a seatbelt in the front, as well as the back of vehicles, because too many times drivers and passengers become crash victims, simply because they were not wearing a seatbelt,” she said.
Mrs. Fletcher noted that seatbelts are life enhancing devices that protect both drivers and passengers, and can reduce fatalities by 30 to 40 per cent, which is very significant.
“It makes better sense to utilise them while driving, because you may never know when a collision might occur, and they can, in fact, save your life,” she said.
She is also appealing to motorists to drive within the required speed limit, which is 50 kilometers per hour in built up areas, 80 kilometres in areas that are not built up, and 110 kilometres on Highway 2000.
Motorcyclists are also urged to wear their helmets, while riding.
Mrs. Fletcher said that road safety begins with motorists, passengers and motorcyclists, and should be made a way of life.
Contact: Jeneva Gordon