Buckle up, it only takes a second to save a life

Robin Carlisle MPP

Minister of Transport and Public Works

Western Cape Government

Safely Home, together with our road safety partners, launches the “It Only Takes A Second To Save A Life” campaign. This is a R5 million, multi-media campaign specifically targeted at the Province’s leading class of fatalities, people who die in vehicles (namely drivers and passengers). This campaign is aimed at increasing awareness around the urgent need for more seat-belt compliance amongst road users in the Western Cape.

Research has shown that increased seat-belt compliance will mean thousands of lives saved, that would have otherwise been lost, in the horrific crashes that plague our roads. Failure to use a seat belt is a certain route to death or serious injury during collisions. When a motor vehicle crash occurs, the occupants who are not restrained continue to move forward at the same speed at which the vehicle was travelling before the collision. They are catapulted forward into the structure of the vehicle, into other occupants or hurled from the vehicle to almost certain death. This horror is experienced daily on our roads, and can be avoided by the simple act of BUCKLING UP.

Also harrowing are the findings of a study conducted by the Stellenbosch University’s Emergency Medicine Unit (reported in the Cape Argus in August). This study revealed that in Cape Town alone:

  • Only 25% of the City’s motorists wore seatbelts (23% male and 29% female);
  • Most severe injuries were sustained by those who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision;
  • Rear passenger seatbelt usage was at an alarming 8.3%;

It comes as no surprise then that the City of Cape Town residents have such a poor record in terms of seat belt compliance, as the fatality rate in the City accounts for nearly half the road deaths in the Province. In the City of Cape Town, as well as in the Province, vehicle occupant deaths (drivers and passengers) are the leading class of fatalities, statistics reveal:

This year alone (From January 2013 till September 2013):

  • 920 people have died on our roads;
  • Of the total, 183 have been drivers and 237 have been passengers;
  • Therefore, of the total, 420 have been vehicle occupants, accounting for a staggering 46%.

Many of these deaths could certainly have been avoided had occupants of vehicles involved in crashes, been appropriately restrained.

Seat belts are important personal protection equipment. Like hard hats, safety glasses, and hard toe shoes in industry, seat belts help to decrease the severity of, or prevent, injuries when crashes occur. Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 40-50% for drivers and front seat occupants and by up to 75% for rear seat occupants (WHO, 2013).

Children are the most tragic victims in these senseless deaths. Road fatalities are the greatest single cause of death in children under the age of 12, and most of them were not buckled up. In 2010, it was observed that 92% of back-seat passengers (including children) are not properly restrained. Buckling up is known to reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by up to 80% (Medical Research Council 2009: National Mortality Information Surveillance System 2008)

It Only Takes A Second To Save A Life

With the R5 million that we have budgeted for this campaign, we have developed and implemented a multi-media awareness campaign focussed on radio and outdoor advertising. 16 billboards across the metro will carry the message, “Buckle Up! It Only Takes A Second To Save A Life”. The visuals used are demonstrative to say the least.

Our radio advertisements, with the “Click Tock” theme, emphasise the very short amount of time that it would take to save your life by “buckling-up”. We ask you to hear it, heed it, and “buckle up” every time you get into your vehicle.

Together, we can make this campaign go a long way in increasing awareness and saving lives. The campaign in its current form will run for the next four months. We are partnered by the Global Road Safety Partnership (Chaired by Professor Sebastian Van As) , and we both invite you to also become a partner by helping us to achieve a sustainable behavioural change and create a culture of “Buckling Up”.