Gardaí revealed that investigators found safety belts had not been used at the time of collision in one out of every three driver or passenger road deaths so far in 2015.
The figure was significantly higher than in previous years.
Nearly half of those who died (48%) were in the ‘younger driver’ age bracket.
Chief Superintendent Mark Curran of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said almost 8,000 fixed charge notices had been issued so far this year to drivers and passengers for not wearing a safety belt.
Of all the fixed charge notices handed out for not wearing a belt, more than half (56%) were issued to people aged 20 to 39.
“Whilst we know that the vast majority of people wear a safety belt, it is startling to think in this day and age — especially the 20-39 age groups who have been exposed to huge road safety education over the past few years — some are choosing not to wear this simple but life-saving device.”
Chief Supt Curran said: “Safety belts work in conjunction with every other safety feature in cars, in particular airbags, and not using a safety belt renders them all virtually useless.
He appealed: “Please see the merit in using your safety belt at all times. It saves lives, and we cannot put it any more simply.
“It is tragic to think one-third of drivers and passengers who have lost their lives in road traffic collisions were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the collision. This figure could rise as investigations progress. We cannot say for definite, but things could have been very different in some of these collisions.”
Meanwhile, Road Safety Authority chief Moyagh Murdock said that without a seat belt, three out of four people will be killed or seriously injured in a 50km/h head-on crash.
“By not wearing a seat belt you also risk becoming a killer yourself because, in a crash, you will be thrown about inside the car, injuring or possibly killing others,” she said.
The offence of not wearing a seat belt attracts three penalty points and a €60 fine.
One person died in the sole fatal collision last year on the October bank holiday weekend. However, gardaí issued 3,533 fines in 2014 for motoring offences, of which 3,218 were for speeding.
Meanwhile, Irish Water Safety warned swimmers and beach walkers to remain vigilant over the holiday weekend. It said Tuesday’s full moon will lead to stronger tidal streams.
“Lower tides typically entice beach walkers further from shore, risking stranding from stronger incoming tidal flows.
“Shore walkers should stay away from the edge and beach walkers should always carry a mobile phone,” it advised.
There is an average of 135 drownings every year in Ireland — a rate of five a fortnight — and Irish Water Safety has noted an increase in the number of children who have drowned.
Six children under the age of 14 died last year, compared to just one the year before.
In total 12 children under the age of 14 have drowned in the last five years.
Irish Water Safety also noted separately that a third of all drowning victims had consumed alcohol.