Costa Rica Transport Minister Karla Gonzalez
Wearing a seat-belt can reduce the risk of death in a road crash by up to 50% and is one of the most effective measures for preventing injury for vehicle occupants. Yet in many countries seat belt use is still not required or enforced.
Now a new practical guide for policymakers has been published by the FIA Foundation, the Global Road Safety Partnership, the World Bank and the World Health Organization providing advice to public authorities on introducing laws and improving seat belt compliance.
The technical advice manual ‘Seat-belts and Child Restraints’ is one of series including advice on motorcycle helmets, speed management and combating drink driving published in the context of the UN Road Safety Collaboration, which as well as the FIA Foundation includes the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), the UN Regional Commissions and many other road safety organisations.
The new seat belt manual was officially launched at an event in Costa Rica with the country’s Transport Minister Karla Gonzalez, Michael Schumacher and Make Roads Safe campaign ambassador Michelle Yeoh. Costa Rica ran a major national seat belt campaign in 2003-4, introducing new seat belt legislation, and launching a major awareness campaign backed up with police enforcement.
FIA Foundation Chairman Carlos Macaya commented: “It is very fitting that the new seat-belt manual is launched in Costa Rica, because here we are the proof that it is possible to save lives by promoting seat-belt use by combining political will, sensitive policing and effective communication. We hope this manual will be a useful catalyst and tool for many countries, regions and public authorities around the world as they work to increase seat belt and child restraint use”.
Michael Schumacher said: ““In my racing career my seat-belt certainly saved my life. It would never occur to me to drive anywhere without first putting on my seat belt. I would urge all car drivers and passengers to always wear your seat- belt. There is simply no excuse not to – your lives depend on it”.
Costa Rica’s Transport Minister Karla Gonzalez, architect of the country’s ‘Por Amor’ (For Love) seat belt campaign, said: "Every step we take, however small it may seem, is gigantic when it comes to protecting our children. Child seats and seat belts are simple devices that offer immense protection for our children”.
Make Roads Safe Campaign ambassador Michelle Yeoh took a ride on the FIA Foundation’s seat-belt crash simulator and commented: “It takes just a few seconds to buckle up in the car, but it is a few seconds that can save your life”.
The partner organisations producing the series of good practice manuals welcomed the publication.
Etienne Krug, Director of Injury Prevention at the World Health Organization, said:
“Increasing the use of seat-belts and child restraints is an effective way for countries to reduce deaths and injuries among vehicle occupants. Governments that haven't done so yet should adopt legislation that requires the use of both seat-belts for all car occupants and age-appropriate child restraints. Adopting and enforcing such laws could save tens of thousands of lives each year”.
Tony Bliss, Lead Road Safety Specialist at the World Bank commented: "Wearing seat belts has been proven to be one of the most effective measures to save lives and reduce injuries on our roads. This manual provides a comprehensive framework and guidelines to help countries achieve the benefits of implementing a cost-effective and sustainable seat belt policy".
Andrew Pearce, Chief Executive of the Global Road Safety Partnership, said: “This important manual in the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration series is a step forward in helping societies reduce death and injury. This is no idle statement. The people of Sakhalin in Russia have used the previous version of the manual to guide their seat belt campaigns. In just four years they have taken seat belt wearing from 4% to over 80% in their community of half a million people. This has been an important contribution to their published 20% reduction in death and injury over the same period. It shows that the lessons learnt over thirty years in the west can be translated effectively to different languages and cultures, and quickly. I urge every community that has low seat belt wearing rates to take this manual off the shelf and get it into action”.
The English language version of the seat belt and child restraint manual will be available in printed form from the FIA Foundation and other UN Collaboration partners in March 2009. Other language versions will also be published through 2009.
Download a copy of the new seat belt and child restraint guide here >
See all the UN Road Safety Collaboration manuals here >