In more than 4600 vehicles with almost 7000 occupants only 33 percent of children were buckled up.

Cape Town motorists are still reluctant to wear seatbelts, despite many sustaining serious injuries that could have been avoided had they buckled up.

A Stellenbosch University study that analysed injuries of vehicle crash victims attended to by Emergency Medical Services in the metro, has found that only 25 percent of city motorists wore seatbelts.

Researchers analysed the injuries of more than 100 motorists who were involved in serious car crashes over a three-month period and found that 75 percent were not wearing seatbelts.

Lead researcher Dr Clint Hendrikse from Stellenbosch University’s Emergency Medicine unit said the study found those who had sustained serious injuries, including broken ribs, severe head injuries and internal bleeding, were mostly people who did not wear seatbelts.

Only 23 percent of males had worn seatbelts, while seatbelt prevalence among females was at 29 percent.

The study also found that most motorists were more likely to wear their seatbelts during the day compared with those at night or in the early hours. Young males were less likely to wear seatbelts compared with their female counterparts.

Rear-seat seatbelt usage was found to be at 8.3 percent.

Hendrikse raised concerns about the latest findings, saying the figures suggested that despite several campaigns to decrease car crashes, the situation was “not improving with a strong association between seatbelt non-use and severe injuries”.

“It also indicates seatbelt prevalence to be very low, much lower than national and provincial statistical claim. Stricter enforcement of current seatbelt and child-restraint laws is necessary to improve seatbelt compliance,” he said.

ONE IN THREE CHILDREN BUCKLED UP

Meanwhile, in another study, the university also found that motorists living in poorer parts of the city were less likely to wear seatbelts compared with the ones from wealthier suburbs.

The research, which monitored seven major intersections in Bellville, Milnerton and Rondebosch and compared those to motorists in Dunoon, Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain, and the City Bowl, found that the overall seatbelt usage was 45 percent.

Of more than 4600 vehicles with almost 7000 occupants, 54 percent were wearing them, while only 33 percent of front seat passengers wore seatbelts.

Only 33 percent of children were buckled up, while nine percent of rear-seated passengers used seatbelts.

In wealthier suburbs, child restraints were used by 41percent of motorists while in low-income areas the figure was only 0.3 percent. - Cape Argus