Kids seatbelt initiative planned

Lawmakers have presented a new awareness campaign to further increase kids’ safety in cars as the number of unprotected young passengers is in decline.

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Traffic Minister Doris Bures announced yesterday (Weds) 5,526 drivers were reprimanded or fined for failing to buckle up children in their vehicles last year, down sharply from 2007 when over 10,500 motorists caused the same offence.

Bures announced her ministry would create a brochure about proper protection of youngsters in cars. She said the folder would be featured in Austria’s so-called baby starter packages women received free of charge after giving birth to a child. The traffic minister added another folder in 10 foreign languages would be produced and laid out across the country to warn of the dangers ignoring the federal seatbelt law could pose.

Bures emphasised that crashes at low speed could kill unprotected passengers. The SPÖ official also explained more than 900 drivers had to sit courses about proper safety in cars since 2009 for failing to protect their children with the use of seatbelts.

More than nine in 10 kids are wearing seatbelts in cars, according to research by the Committee for Traffic Safety (KfV). The organisation pointed out this was an improvement on 2007 when only 81 per cent did so.

KfV said in January it found that 104 of the 514 people who died in car crashes in the first 11 months of 2010 were not protected by seatbelts. The committee’s investigations on adults’ willingness to wear seatbelts revealed a worrying decline. Around 84 per cent of drivers told pollsters in 2010 they did so, down by five per cent compared to survey results the year before. KfV checked around 30,000 motorists.

More than 1,600 people were killed in accidents every year before Austria’s seatbelt law came into effect in 1984. People were ordered to protect themselves with seatbelts for the first time in 1976. However, decision-makers agreed on fining those who ignored it only eight years later.

The number of people losing their lives on roads in the alpine country decreased by 13 per cent from 2009 to 2010 when 552 fatalities occurred. Last year’s figure was the lowest ever recorded since 1961 when statisticians started examining traffic occurrences and deaths.