Seat belt use: Why increase enforcement?

According to ETSC estimates, seat belt wearing rates in the in EU vary between 45 and 95% for front seat occupants, and between 9 and 75% for rear seat passengers. The weighted mean wearing rate for seat belts in the European Union is 76% for front seat occupants and 46% for rear seat occupants (ETSC, 2003).

CountryWearing rate, front seats (%)Wearing rate, rear seats (%)
Austria77(2004)56 (adults, 2004)
Belgium66 (2004)not available
Czech Republic75 (driver, 2004)n/a
Denmark84 (2004)63 (2004)
Estonia75 (2004)21 (2004)
Finland89 (2004)80 (2004)
France97 (2004)68 (2004)
Germany94 (driver, 2004)90(adults, 2004)
Greece40 (2003)15 (2003)
Hungary59 (2004)20 (2003)
Ireland85 (2003)46 (adults, 2003)
Luxemburg88 (driver, 2004)72 (2004)
Malta95 (driver, 2004)43 (2004)
Netherlands86 (2003)63 (2003)
Poland71 (2004)49 (2004)
Portugal88 (driver 2004)25 (2004)
Spain86 (2003)42 (2003)
Sweden92 (driver, 2004)79 (2004)
UK93 (driver, 2004)83 (2004)
Seat belt wearing rates in the European Union (ETSC, 2006)

The SARTRE II survey does not reveal how many drivers do or do not feel at risk of being caught for not using the seat belt. The actual share of those who report being fined or punished for this offence during the past 3 years is less than 10% in each country (ETSC, 1999).

At the same time, ETSC estimates that about 50% of all car occupants that die in a fatal accident in the EU could have survived if they had worn their seat belt (ETSC, 1999). Reliable statistics on the use of seat belts among accident victims are however not available. The table summarises available data for drivers.

CountryPercentage of killed drivers who did not their seat belt (2000)
Greece42% (2002)
Drivers killed in accidents not using their seat belt in 2000 (Clifford Chance, part II)

IRTAD: Seat belt wearing rates for drivers
SARTRE: Drivers' perception of their own seat belt wearing habits
Think! Road Safety: Seat belt wearing rates for the UK

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