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Clunk Click – Re-Reading Road Risk


What do the following statements have in common: “It’ll never happen to me.” “It’s only to nip down the road.” and “Anyway, I am a safe driver.”?

Well, they are all excuses that are still being used  to explain not using a seat belt in the car

Bizarrely, because I thought this was a battle fought and won in the early 1970s, nearly a quarter of motorists (22%) fail to belt-up when they are driving or being carried as a passenger in a car.

In a survey, carried-out on behalf of insurance company Esure, 1372 motorists were quizzed about their seat belt habits. They found that one in six drivers won’t wear a belt for short trips and 10% of passengers will only wear one if prompted by the driver.

Worryingly, 60% of those who drove vehicles for work confessed to seat belt offences, something that bosses need to get a hold of very quickly.

Age and gender showed differences – older drivers and women were more likely to buckle themselves in than younger drivers and men.

The legalities of this are that failing to use a seat belt in a motor vehicle, where one is available, has been an offence in the UK since 1983 and can attract a fine of up to £500. But the most important penalty, though, is that you are 30 times more likely to be killed if you don’t wear a belt, should your car be involved in an accident.

We all think we know how to drive our car or to run our lives but the odd thing about accidents is that they happen when we least expect them. Understanding the riskiness of various activities requires us to be tuned-in to which ones are adventurous (but actually pretty safe) and which are dangerous.

The word accident is, of course, no longer used by the police or insurers for what used to be called a ‘car crash’. Today, because there is usually someone to blame, arrest or pursue for damages – the term used is ‘collision’.

This change in terminology comes hand-in-hand with a move towards risk-reduction in our delivery of public services. But there is a misfit between the theorists behind this strategy and the practical health communications strategy in action.

But are we ‘getting’ the message about which risks are safe but fun and which are simply stupid to flout? In particular, are we getting that message through to those people who are most likely to take risks – those who are younger and mostly young men?

This report suggests not.

From → Health, Practice, Research

One Comment
  1. You pick up an important topic!

    Wish daring and courage would be seen in compassion and kindness – instead in not wearing a seat belt!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

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