Home News Seat Belts – Live and Learn

Seat Belts – Live and Learn

by Mark Nolan
5 minutes read

In the most recent intensified campaign focussing on the wearing of seat belts and child restraints, 4,446 people were found to be not wearing a seat belt, adults who actively made that choice, whereas 262 children were also travelling without any form of restraint, 62 of them in the front seat.

It might be a well known fact that children learn by example, but that doesn´t seem to be realised by the adults responsible for those children found to be put at risk. That said, those children are the lucky ones, as hopefully the lesson will be learnt and the responsible adults will take appropriate action from now on.

To be found responsible for the death of any child is a burden that is almost impossible to conceive, let alone one´s own. That burden will not be eased by the courts, as has been witnessed in a sentence handed down in Madrid this week, in which the driver of a car has been sentence to two years in prison following a crash in which his son was killed.

The incident occurred in February, 2017, when the defendant was driving his car, an Opel Corsa, at speeds between 120 and 130 kilometres per hour on a section of the MA-20 motorway at the exit of the Carlos Haya tunnel, in the Almería direction, where the maximum permitted limit is 80 kilometres per hour.

The reports state that the vehicle was travelling in the left hand lane and whilst the driver was distracted moved, “inadvertently,” to the centre lane. The driver then noticed another vehicle and realised a collision was imminent, thus making a sharp turn to the left to avoid the crash, losing control of his car and colliding with the central reservation, before rolling six times.

Travelling in the vehicle was the man´s son, a four-year-old boy, who was travelling in a child seat which was located on the back seat of the vehicle. However, the seat had not been secured to the vehicle and the child was thrown from the vehicle and died instantly due to a head trauma.

The sentence states that the defendant had not anchored the child seat to the vehicle, nor had he fastened the safety harness. As a result, the man omitted “the most elementary duties of care that, as father and responsible for the vehicle, were incumbent upon him”.

As a result, whilst living with the knowledge of what he was responsible for, the man was sentenced to two years in prison for a crime of homicide for serious imprudence. He was also banned from driving for three years.

The man will also have to financially compensate the mother and siblings of the child for a total of 113,307 euro, of which only a portion, 20,451 to each of the children, will be covered by the insurance company.

The Most Recent Statistics

In the most recent campaign, which ran between the 11th and 17th of March, 4,446 people have been detected not using the seat belt, or the child restraint system in the case of minors, by Guardia Civil traffic patrols.

The campaign, which is included in the annual calendar of special actions planned by the International Traffic Police Organization (TISPOL), meant that many countries increased surveillance during the week.

In Spain, a total of 377,602 vehicles have been checked and it has been verified that 4,446 people did not use the mandatory security device.

The data reveals that 75.6% of people who did not use this safety device were on conventional roads, the place where 8 out of 10 deaths occur.

During the seven days, the officers also detected 262 children, of equal or less than 135 cm tall, travelling without any type of security device. Specifically, 62 of them were in the front seat and another 200 in the rear seats.

Spanish legislation requires that children equal or less than 135 cm in height who travel by vehicle, in addition to travelling with the child restraint system appropriate to their size and weight as required, must be seated in the rear seats of vehicles, except:

  1. When the vehicle does not have rear seats
  2. When all the rear seats are already occupied by other minors of the same characteristics.
  3. When it is not possible to install all the child restraint systems in said rear seats.

It is only in these cases that children can occupy the front seat of the vehicle, but always using the restraint system approved to their size and weight. Child restraint systems must be installed in the vehicle in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Life Insurance

The seat belt is a basic and fundamental element of road safety, a life insurance. For this reason, its use is mandatory for all occupants of a vehicle and on all types of roads. In addition, the correct use of it is essential to fulfil the purpose for which it was created.

In the monitoring that is done from the air it is appreciated how many occupants of the vehicle either don´t use a seat belt or use it incorrectly, thus reducing the effectiveness of the device.

In Spain, seat belt use is not only monitored by ground patrols on a daily basis, but also by the helicopters and drones operated by the DGT, and hundreds of smart cameras around the network.

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