One in ten children travelling in the back seat of a vehicle are not using seat belts or car seats, according to research by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
A nationwide study conducted by the RSA in 2017 observed seatbelt usage by 3,861 children both in the front and the rear seats of the vehicle.
As part of the study, 93% of children were observed wearing seatbelts, however, when observing children in the rear of the vehicle only, this dropped to 89%.
The RSA, along with An Garda Síochána, is urging parents to make sure every child is properly restrained when driving as it launches its Back to School road safety campaign today.
The organisation, in partnership with ESB Networks, plans to distribute free high visibility vests to every child starting school in September, with 880,000 children throughout the country already receiving high-vis vests since the project began eight years ago.
Commenting on the launch of this year’s campaign, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said: “With children returning to school over the coming weeks, traffic levels will increase, and motorists need to be mindful of our most vulnerable road users.
"I am asking parents to ensure any child travelling in their vehicle is using their seatbelt or the correct child restraint, and to educate children to be vigilant when out walking or cycling to school,” he said.
Today, we launch our road safety back to school campaign for 2018 with the help of the Seatbelt Sheriff. Research shows that 1 in 10 children are still not being restrained when travelling in the back seat. #BacktoSchool pic.twitter.com/uKLgMSqCDR— RSA Ireland (@RSAIreland) August 23, 2018
Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority said: “An RSA observational study carried out in 2017 shows that one in ten children are still not being restrained properly by their parents or guardians in the back seat.
"This is very worrying especially when you consider that the most dangerous thing a child does each day is travel as a passenger in a car.
Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, An Garda Síochána, National Roads Policing Unit, said: “The non-wearing of seatbelts by children under 17 is not only against the law but is extremely dangerous. We continue to see fatalities where a vehicle occupant was not wearing a seatbelt and therefore had no protection in a collision.
"Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that all passengers under 17 are appropriately restrained in the vehicle. The penalty for drivers who permit a child to travel in a vehicle without being properly restrained is 3 penalty points and a €60 fixed charge,” he said.
Schools can now register online here for the RSA’s Back to School road safety packs which will be sent to primary schools nationwide over the coming months.
The packs contain a high-vis vest, Going to School leaflets for parents of junior infants, a Safe Cross Code promotional pack, the ‘Educational News’ newsletter and an ESB Networks safety information leaflet.