Data captured by new camera technology in Victoria reveals an alarming amount of drivers still aren’t wearing their seatbelts properly.
A new Victorian government inquiry into road safety has found that over a period of three months – April to June – a total of 6597 advisory letters were sent out to drivers for seatbelt-related offences.
Data from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) also reveals more than 130 vehicle occupants who were killed on Victorian roads in the last five years weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
More than 80 per cent of those killed were males, while 70 per cent were individuals aged under 50, who have had seatbelt regulations in place their whole lives.
In addition, 65 per cent of those fatalities occurred in regional Victoria.
Victoria is rolling out new mobile and seatbelt detection cameras, and has implemented a new, higher fine for seatbelt offences: $385 and three demerit points.
“I think most of us are bewildered that after 53 years of seatbelts being mandated in Victoria, and with the knowledge that we all have of how seatbelts save lives, that in this day anyone could be making the decision to not put their seatbelt on or not wear it properly,” said TAC chief executive Tracey Slatter in remarks reported by ABC News.
Ms Slatter said that 22 people who died on Victoria’s roads this year weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
Victoria Police told ABC News it recorded a total of 7367 seatbelt-related offences in 2022 and 6236 offences in 2021.
This is despite the use of seatbelts being mandatory since 1970 in the state, with Victoria being the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce the law.
Ms Slatter reiterated the importance of wearing a seatbelt and dispelled the myth that they have become redundant as a result of new safety features on vehicles.
“[A seatbelt] is an absolute critical part of the safety that you need in a vehicle, regardless of the other technology, to reduce the chances of you having a serious injury or worse if you are involved in a transport accident,” said Ms Slatter.
“It might be annoying, but certainly not as impactful as being involved in a transport accident without wearing it,”
Ms Slatter noted the vast majority of people were wearing their seat belts correctly, with 98 per cent of drivers and 96 per cent of passengers doing the right thing.
Even with road safety messaging becoming more and more prevalent, there have been 191 lives lost on Victorian roads this year, up 23.2 per cent on the same period last year.