Rear seat belts 'double likelihood of surviving a crash'

Spanish researchers are using data from accidents in which thousands of car passengers died to tackle the nation's reluctance to wear a seat belt when travelling in the back of a vehicle

Despite many years of telling Spaniards that using the safety belt can save lives, the government's General Traffic Directorate believes that most drivers still associate the warning only with buckling up in the front seat.

Researchers at the University of Granada looked at data collected from road crashes between 1993 and 2002 to see what influence age, gender, use of restraints and seat position had on the death of passengers in the rear of the vehicle.

Restricting their work to accidents in which two or three people were travelling in the rear of a vehicle and at least one was killed, left them with information on 5,260 rear-seated passengers, 2,851 of whom were killed.

The results, reported in a paper entitled 'Individual factors affecting the risk of death for rear-seated passengers in road crashes', estimates that using rear seat restraints reduces the risk of death by 44 per cent.

Age and gender can also play a significant part in the outcome of a crash. Women are 28 per cent more likely to die than men, while people over the age of 64 are the highest risk sector when they travel in the rear of a car and are four times more likely to die than teenagers.

Which seat you choose is important, too. In Spain, passengers who travel at the centre or right side of the rear seat are less likely to be killed in an accident than those on the left.

Image: Spaniards are resisting warnings to use rear seat belts

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