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Cape Town - The Mother City’s drivers are failing the test when it comes to buckling up behind the wheel.
As a result, they are five times more likely to die in a car accident, acording to a recent study in the South African Medical Journal.
The study, produced by the Centre for Statistical Consultation at Stellenbosch University, examined data from 107 patients involved in 55 collisions in Cape Town from June to August 2013. The aim of the study was to determine the relationship between seatbelt use and the severity of injuries sustained by patients involved in road traffic collisions.
According to the report, “dead or seriously injured patients were five times less likely to have worn a seatbelt than those with less severe injuries. None of the 11 who died had been restrained.”
The study also found the prevalence of seatbelt use in Cape Town was 25.2 percent overall, with 34.5 percent of drivers, 21.4 percent of passengers, and 8.3 percent of rear-seat passengers using seatbelts.
The highest rate of seatbelt use occurred between noon and 4pm, with the lowest in the early morning and late evening.
According to the World Health Organisation’s 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety, South Africa had one of the lowest rates of seatbelt use in the world with 59 percent of drivers and 67 percent of passengers wearing seatbelts nationwide.
The same report rated seatbelt enforcement in South Africa as a one on a scale from 0-10, with national child restraints laws also ranking one on the same scale.
The Western Cape has taken steps to reduce the number of people killed in road collisions through the Safely Home initiative launched in 2009, which hoped to reduce by 50 percent the number killed in collisions by the end of this 2014.
Siphesihle Dube, spokesperson for the Western Cape’s ministry of transport and public works, said: “The number of fatalities has decreased by about 30 percent since the programme started, but we’ve determined it’s unlikely we’ll reach 50 percent by the end of year.”
In November 2013 the Safely Home Initiative also launched the “It Takes a Second to Save a Life” campaign which centres on seatbelt usage in the province. The R5 million multimedia project was in response to the rising number of vehicle occupant deaths which are fast overtaking pedestrian fatalities.