24 Apr 2018

Rural drivers more likely to die while not wearing seatbelt

3:39 pm on 24 April 2018

New research has found most people who die in road crashes while not wearing seatbelts are driving on rural roads.

A road sign indicating a 65km speed around a tight corner on a rural road in the Coromandel.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The study, conducted by the AA research foundation, looked at 200 randomly selected crashes between 2011 and 2015 in which someone in the car, not wearing a seatbelt, was killed.

It found more than 80 percent of deaths where someone wasn't wearing a seatbelt occur on rural roads while just under 40 percent involve fatigue.

Research Foundation Manager, Simon Douglas said the results were surprising.

"People driving for work, driving trucks or vans - either trade workers or agricultural workers they were over represented not wearing their seat belts.

"We found elderly and retired people, over 65 to 75, who weren't wearing their seatbelts, who were not speeding, they weren't drinking, but they were over represented," he said.

Far too often, we are seeing crashes with multiple passengers, and the ones with seatbelts only suffer bruises and scrapes, while someone who isn't buckled up dies, he said.

The AA Research Foundation led the project in partnership with the Ministry of Transport, NZ Police, NZTA and ACC.

National Manager Road Policing, Superintendent Steve Greally said they provided data for the research.

"For most people it's a habitual thing; you get into your car and you put on your seatbelt.

"But unfortunately, for a small group of people, this is not the case," he said.

People are 60 percent more likely to survive a crash in the front seat if you're wearing your seatbelt and 44 percent more likely to survive in the back seat, he said.