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Northern Ireland Audit Office – Road Safety Report

Parents and young adults in Northern Ireland are putting safety first and responding positively to the seat belt wearing message.

These are the findings of the latest observational seat belt survey carried out in Northern Ireland during April 2007. While the overall seatbelt wearing rate increased for a further year from 93% to 95%, the biggest changes were seen amongst back seat passengers, particularly children (aged between 5 and 9 years) from 84% to 90% and young adults (aged between 14 and 29) from 75% to 83%.

Environment Minister, Arlene Foster, said: “Within the last year there has been a big effort to improve seat belt wearing rates particularly amongst children and young adults. The launch of a powerful new seat belt advertising campaign and the introduction of tougher new seat belt penalties have played a vital role in bringing about the positive changes revealed today.

These figures also show that overall seat belt wearing rates have reached the same level as Great Britain and wearing rates by Northern Ireland drivers and back seat passengers are now higher.

The Minister added: “I welcome these positive improvements in the figures and the assurance that the steps being put in place are the right ones. However, what I value most today is the increase in the number of drivers and passengers in Northern Ireland who will now significantly increase their chances of survival if involved in a collision.

“Please remember today and every day – No seat belt, no excuse.”

Welcoming the findings of the latest survey, Chief Inspector Brian Kee, Deputy Head of the PSNI’s Road Policing Development Unit, said: “Too many people are killed and seriously injured in preventable collisions on Northern Ireland’s roads each year. Increased seat belt wearing undoubtedly saves lives and prevents terrible suffering. We will continue to enforce seat belt wearing laws robustly to help achieve even higher wearing rates in the future and make our roads safer for everyone.

“Our message to drivers is very simple. We all have a role to play in preventing deaths and injuries on our roads. If you speed, take drink or drugs and drive, fail to wear your seat belt, drive carelessly or dangerously, you run the real risk of killing or seriously injuring yourself, your passengers or some other innocent road user.”

Notes to Editors:

New cross-border seat belt campaign launched in Belfast on 3 October 2006.

New seat belt offences and penalties came into force on 27 June 2007. An information leaflet giving details of the new measures is available on the DOE website

% of car occupants wearing seat belts 2006 2007
Overall Wearing Rate % 93 95
Driver 93 95
Front seat 93 95

Back seat
Of which:

Under 1 year

1-4 years

5-9 years

10-13 years









The new laws and maximum fines include:

Failing to use seatbelts: three penalty points for driving without a seat belt or for drivers carrying a child unbelted. Fine on conviction for carrying child unbelted in the back to increase to a maximum £500. Children under three years MUST use an appropriate child restraint in any vehicle - the only exception being when travelling in the rear seat of a taxi. In vehicles where seat belts are fitted, children from three years and up to 135cms in height or 12 years of age, MUST use the appropriate child restraint. The only exceptions are in respect of taxis, unexpected short journeys and where two fitted child restraints prevent the fitting of a third.

For further media enquiries contact the DOE Press Office on 028 9054 0003.Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

31 Bruce St, Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7JD T: +44 (0) 28 9033 1044   F: +44 (0) 28 9033 1622   E: