#AlwaysBuckleUp – It’s the law, and it’s the right thing to do

Minister Donald Grant uses a seatbelt.
Minister Donald Grant uses a seatbelt.

An innovative “It Takes a Second to Save a Life” direct marketing campaign to encourage seatbelt usage in the Western Cape has this month been launched by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works. The message is based on sound internationally-tested methods to discourage unsafe driving practices. The “I killed my best friend” radio advertisement follows this international best practice thinking. A clip of the radio advertisement is attached.

“Very seldom do we unbuckle a dead person from a car.” These powerful words were spoken recently by Gary Watts, coroner of the American county of Richland in South Carolina. He speaks from experience.

Seatbelts are not accessories; they save lives and reduce the risk of injury. Drivers and passengers should always wear seatbelts, even on the shortest journey. Regulations to the National Road Traffic Act provide that children up to the age of three must be in appropriate child restraints when travelling in private vehicles, even on the shortest journey.

Provincial Traffic Chief Kenny Africa uses a seatbelt.
Provincial Traffic Chief Kenny Africa uses a seatbelt.

Thousands of people who die in road traffic crashes each year might still be alive if they had been wearing their seatbelts. Before a vehicle starts moving, drivers and passengers must make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and that young children are kept safe in an appropriate child restraints. This prevents needless injuries and deaths. It is a positive action that all of us can all take to keep ourselves and loved ones safe on the roads. It only takes a second to buckle up and save a life.

Research shows that seatbelts are 99% effective in preventing occupants from being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash. They also reduce the risk of death in a crash by nearly 45%.

Vehicle occupant deaths constitute one of the leading classes of fatalities in the City of Cape Town, and account for nearly half of the road deaths in the Western Cape. A study conducted by the University of Stellenbosch Emergency Medicine Unit in 2013 revealed that in Cape Town alone:

  • Only 25% of the city’s motorists wore seatbelts;
  • Only 8,3% of rear passengers use seatbelts; and
  • Most severe injuries were sustained by vehicle occupants who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of a collision; and

The “It Takes a Second to Save a Life” seatbelt campaign is the road safety focus for September 2015. Safely Home is encouraging members of the public to always buckle up, front and back. This important message is being pushed hard through radio advertisements, on social media and via the Freeway Management System’s Variable Message Signs (VMS). Our provincial road safety traffic officials are also raising awareness on seatbelt education at departmental events, in schools and public spaces during the month.

Provincial Traffic Inspector Antoinette Fennie ensures that Kgomotso Matsunyani is properly buckled up
Provincial Traffic Inspector Antoinette Fennie ensures that Kgomotso Matsunyani is properly buckled up

We are appealing to parents and caregivers to buckle young children up in appropriate car seats to help prevent injury and death in a crash. Age-appropriate car seats are effective because the car seat harness and vehicle seatbelt are positioned over the parts of a child’s body that are most likely to absorb the force of a crash.

Together, we can make this campaign go a long way, increase awareness, and save lives. We invite you to become a partner by helping us to achieve sustainable behaviour change and to create a culture of “buckling up”.

Wearing a seatbelt could be a difference between life and death. It is not just your own life you are protecting when you choose to do the right thing by buckling up.

It only takes a second to save a life. So buckle up, front and back, on every trip.

Follow Safely Home (@WCGovSafelyHome) on Twitter under the hashtag #AlwaysBuckleUp

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