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A Ministry of Transport survey shows most New Zealanders wear safety belts when in the front seat, with a significant increase in front seat safety belt wearing rates over the last ten years, rising from 94 percent to 97 percent nationwide.

The survey also shows that safety belt usage has increased since last survey in some regions with Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago all showing increases. Wearing rates have decreased in Waikato, Taranaki and West Coast, with Northland, Nelson-Marlborough-Tasman and Southland not showing any significant change.

The increase in safety belt wearing is mirrored by a decrease in fatalities. In 2013, there were 37 fatalities where the vehicle occupant was unrestrained at the time of the crash, compared with 83 in 2004.

However, there is still a small percentage of people not buckling up, with the survey showing that nationwide males are less likely to wear safety belts than females. 97 percent of male drivers and 94 percent of male front seat passengers were observed wearing safety belts, compared with 98 percent of both female drivers and passengers.

“It is a concern – more than one in twenty male passengers are not wearing safety belts,” Leo Mortimer, Manager Land Transport Safety, Ministry of Transport says.

“Wearing a safety belt is a road safety basic, and should be second nature to anyone travelling in a vehicle. A responsible driver should ensure they and their passengers are wearing their safety belts. Not only is it a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to be restrained, but it may save their lives.”

Around 20 lives a year could be saved if safety belts were always worn.

“It is very simple. Make sure that at the start of any journey, everyone in the vehicle is safely buckled up,” Mr Mortimer says.

This survey looks at front seat safety belt rates, with separate surveys for examining rear seat safety belt and child restraints. Previous surveys are available on the Ministry of Transport’s website.

This survey looks at front seat safety belt rates, with separate surveys for examining rear seat safety belt and child restraints.

View more information about the survey

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