Seat belts

Effective seat-belt programmes were identified by the World report on road traffic injury prevention as a proven and effective measure to reduce death and injury on the road.

Failure to use seat-belts is a major contributing factor to road fatalities. The use of seat-belts has been one of the most effective road safety measures ever implemented, saving more lives than any other intervention. The effectiveness of seat-belts depends upon the type and severity of the crash and the seating position of the passenger. Use of seat-belts can reduce the risk of death in a road crash by up to 50% for front seat, and 25% for rear seat passengers. Seatbelts prevent being catapulted into the vehicle structure or ejected from the car. Car occupants being ejected dies in 75% of the cases.

In low and middle-income countries usage rates are generally very low - especially on rear seats where seat belts might not even be fitted. The use of child restraints in motor vehicles varies considerably between countries and is mainly confined to use in high-income countries.

Seat-belt legislation is an effective way to increase restraint use and reduce injuries. The mandatory use of seat-belts is also highly cost effective. Legislation on the use of safety restraints must be accompanied by strict enforcement in order to be effective.

TheSeat-belt and child restrains manual is a practical guide to implementing, enforcing and evaluating seat-belt and child restraint programmes, and consists of a series of 'how to' modules. It takes the users through the steps needed to assess the situation. It then explains the steps needed to design, plan and implement a seat-belt and child restraint programme. Finally, the manual guides users on how to monitor and evaluate such programmes so that the results can be fed back into programme design. For each of these activities, the document outlines in a practical way the various steps that need to be taken. This manual is the fourth in this series of good practice manuals, jointly prepared by the FIA Foundation, the Global Road Safety Partnership, the World Bank and WHO.

The key principles and practical steps that this manual presents can easily be adapted and made relevant to different contexts around the world. The modular structure of the manual means it can be read and easily adapted to suit the problems and needs of individual countries.

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