In the latest campaign to ensure vehicle occupants use seatbelts and child restraints, over 5,000 adults were fined for not wearing their seatbelt. In addition, a staggering 287 children under 12 were found travelling without any kind of restraint, 70 of whom were in the front seat, 217 in the rear.
During the week long campaign, a total of 416,917 vehicles were checked, with both ground and airborne officers from the Guardia Civil, assisted by the local police, ensuring that the message of the importance of wearing a seatbelt was being heard and acted upon.
According to the DGT, 41% of people killed in traffic accidents on urban roads lose their lives as a result of not wearing a seatbelt and that by wearing a seatbelt you reduce the risk of death by a half in the front seat, and by a quarter in the rear.
The use of the seatbelt, properly fastened, is mandatory for the driver and all passengers in a car. All vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt, whether sat in the front or the rear.
There are six exemptions when drivers do not always have to wear a seatbelt, but these exceptions should be considered as exceptional circumstances and not the norm. The exemptions should not be used as a reason for not wearing the seatbelt, as you will still be at increased risk, but there are circumstances when it is permissible, including whilst carrying out a reversing manoeuvre or parking, with certified medical exemption, taxi drivers on duty, multi-drop drivers delivering goods at locations within walking distance of each other, emergency services and persons accompanying student drivers in certain circumstances.
Children under 12 years of age are not allowed to travel in the front seat, unless using a properly fitted and approved restraint, with the only exception being when the child’s height is equal to or greater than 135 centimetres, in which case they can use the normal seatbelt.
In the rear seats, people whose height does not reach 135 centimetres must use a properly fitted child restraint system suitable for their height and weight. People whose height is equal to or greater than 135 centimetres and no greater than 150 centimetres, may either use a child restraint system suitable for their height and weight or the fitted seatbelt.
According to the DGT, 70% of children in cars are not properly protected. The correct use of child restraints helps reduce the injuries from an accident by 75%. Incredibly, nine out of ten children in serious or fatal crashes were not using child restraints correctly.
In the first two months of this year, of the 109 vehicle occupants killed, 21 of them were not using a seat belt, 2 of them were under 12. Statistically, if those 21 occupants had been wearing a seatbelt, 10 of them would still be alive today to tell the tale.
The DGT would also like to remind adults that they should lead by example, since children tend to imitate what adults do, so if a child sees a parent or grandparent put the seat belt on when in the car, there is a highly possibility that safer practices would become habitual and the number of deaths reduced.