Seatbelt use on decline among drivers and front seat passengers – RSA research


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  • A 2023 observational study reported a 4% decrease in seat belt wearing rates for drivers and a 5% decrease for front seat passengers since 2022.
  • A 2023 European survey found that one in ten reported driving, and travelling as a front seat passenger, without wearing a seat belt in Ireland.
  • This rose to one in five amongst those travelling as a rear-seat passenger.
  • RSA campaign encourages drivers to ask their passengers, in front and rear seats, to put on their seat belt before setting off

 The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is urging drivers and passengers to always wear a seat belt on every journey. The call comes as research from the RSA found that seatbelt wearing rates decreased among drivers and front seat passengers between 2022 and 2023.

This research was a manual observational study of seat belt wearing of drivers and passengers conducted in September-October 2023. A nationally representative sample was used and observations took place in all 26 counties.

Key findings included that seat belt wearing rates by drivers decreased by 4% (from 99%-95%) when compared to 2022. A 5% decrease was recorded for front seat passengers (from 99%-94%). While rear-seat passenger seat belt wearing rates increased overall by 2% (from 93-95%), compliance was lower (92%) for those travelling on rural roads.

In addition, Irish results from the 2023 European E-survey of Road Users’ Attitudes (‘ESRA’) show concerning levels of non-seat belt wearing. The online ESRA3 survey was conducted in 39 countries in 2023, collecting data from more than 37,000 road users (901 in Ireland).

One in ten (10%) reported driving without wearing a seat belt at least once in the last 30 days, as did those travelling in the front seat. One in five (18%) reported travelling without wearing a seat belt in the back seat.

Further to this, RSA analysis of Irish collision data shows that 22% of car users killed between 2019-2023 were not wearing a seat belt*. Also, 7% of car users seriously injured between 2019 and 2023 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.

Jack Chambers TD, Minister for State at the Department of Transport, said: “The first safety rule is to ensure your seatbelt is securely fastened and all drivers will be aware of this from when they learnt to drive. I am really concerned to see the decline in seatbelt use. It is a very real risk and potential killer behaviour which increases the likelihood of a driver or passenger being killed or seriously injured. Drivers need to take responsibility for themselves and their passengers. Seatbelts save lives, and choosing not to wear one is not only dangerous, but selfish too.”

On Monday, the RSA is launching an advertising campaign encouraging drivers to ask their passengers to wear their seatbelt. The campaign will air on TV, video on demand, radio, digital audio and social media. It airs from Monday until 14 July.

Sam Waide, CEO of the RSA, said: “We are asking drivers to set an example by wearing their own seatbelt and asking passengers to put theirs on too. Wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between surviving a collision and not – they are proven life savers. They protect both those who wear them, and other people in the vehicle, as an unbelted person can impact with and seriously injure others in the event of a collision. It is alarming to see this decline in usage. It is a huge risk to not wear one, whether your journey is short or long, or requires multiple stops.”

The RSA’s “Check it Fits” child’s car seat roadshow will be in Cork and Mayo in June. This is a free service that check’s whether a child’s car seat or restraint is correctly fitted. So far in 2024 RSA experts have checked 2,976 child car seats, of which 46% were fitted correctly. A list of upcoming “Check it Fits” event locations and dates are listed on