Arrive Alive

Seatbelt Wearing Rates

DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS FRONT AND BACK SEATS INDIVIDUALLY, NOT WEARING SEATBELTS WHILE DRIVING, ALSO INVDIVIDUALLY FOR URBAN AND RURAL ROADS AND STREETS.

Province Item Drivers Front passengers Back passengers
Gauteng Number 948 951 225
Number not wearing 236 528 193
% Not wearing 24.9% 55.5% 86.2%
KwaZulu-Natal Number 1009 1009 250
Number not wearing 176 484 247
% Not wearing 17.4% 48.0% 98.8%
Western Cape Number 1142 1144 229
Number not wearing 200 583 215
% Not wearing 17.5% 51.0% 93.9%
Eastern Cape Number 1065 1068 399
Number not wearing 127 464 396
% Not wearing 11.9% 43.4% 99.2%
Free State Number 900 903 903
Number not wearing 174 357 891
% Not wearing 19.3% 39.5% 98.7%
Mpumalanga Number 1291 1305 367
Number not wearing 194 622 308
% Not wearing 15.0% 47.7% 83.9%
Limpopo Number 826 835 178
Number not wearing 163 405 156
% Not wearing 19.7% 48.5% 87.6%
Northern Cape Number 915 918 236
Number not wearing 138 442 228
% Not wearing 15.1% 48.1% 96.6%
National Total observed 9079 6575 2968
Total not wearing 1533 4391 2811
Weighted national % Not wearing 19.0% 49.9% 92.4%

The information reported in this table was obtained from the road blocks when vehicles were stopped for inspection. The driver wearing rate reported is exceptionally high. It is suspected that the wearing rate for drives is so high, because drivers had the opportunity to put on their seat belts while approaching the road blocks, or while waiting for the vehicle to be inspected. (During the road blocks there was normally a short waiting time before the surveyor started with the inspection of the vehicle.) It was therefore decided to verify the information thus obtained by doing an invisible survey of drivers wearing rates (i.e. where vehicles were not stopped, with the surveyor remaining unobserved). This survey started only later during the programme, with the result that two of the provinces (North West and Mpumalanga) could not be covered by this invisible survey.

The results were as follows:

Province Item Rural Urban
Gauteng Number 520 1300
Number not wearing 212 653
% Not wearing 40.8% 50.2%
KwaZulu-Natal Number 615 1474
Number not wearing 310 1000
% Not wearing 50.4% 67.8%
Western Cape Number 659 1564
Number not wearing 380 1112
% Not wearing 57.7% 71.1%
Eastern Cape Number 621 1672
Number not wearing 247 1074
% Not wearing 39.8% 64.2%
Free State Number 480 1400
Number not wearing 215 1027
% Not wearing 44.8% 73.4%
Limpopo Number 480 1100
Number not wearing 223 884
% Not wearing 46.5% 80.4%
Northern Cape Number 455 1232
Number not wearing 300 923
% Not wearing 65.8% 74.9%
National Total observed 3830 9742
Total not wearing 1887 6673
Weighted national % Not wearing 44.2% 59.6%

This table did not confirm the consistently low non-wearing rate which was found in the road block survey. The driver wearing rates during invisible surveys ranged from 40% (Eastern Cape, rural) to 80% (Limpopo, urban). No consistent pattern seems to exist. Although some high wearing rates have been recorded, it is clear that the seat belt situation has not been stabilised and is still far from ideal. Communication and law enforcement programmes have to continue emphasising the issue of seat belt wearing.

DETAIL ON SEATBELT WEARING RATES IN SOUTH AFRICA

GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
Seat belts: Driver(road block survey)(% offenders) Results 10 / 1997 59 52 64 67 61
Results 4 / 1998 59 46 44 58 54
Present results 25 17 18 12 19 15 13 20 15 19
Calculated X2 value 115 Critical X2 value (df=3): 8 Difference significant? Yes, improved
Seat belt: Front passenger (% offenders) Results 10 / 1997 67 63 65 74 69
Results 12/1998 67 51 49 63 60
Present results 56 48 51 43 40 48 51 49 48 50
Calculated X2 value 19 Critical X2 value (df=3): 8 Difference significant? Yes, improved

Calculated X2 for the observed data series is 85; critical X2 value for df = 6 is 13. This indicates of a highly significant difference.

An important feature of the information is the highly significant difference between urban and rural wearing rates4, with urban rates much lower than rural rates. Another interesting phenomenon is that the CBD wearing rates will often be very low, while wearing rates on urban access roads to high speed freeways will often be very high. The apparent explanation of these phenomena is that road users seem to believe that the seat belt is not really necessary at relatively lower speeds - the impact of crashes at lower speeds (40 - 60km/h) seems to be underestimated by road users. This misconception should specifically be addressed in communication programmes.

[Information kindly provided by the Arrive Alive National Fatal Accident Information Centre,National Department of Transport]

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