Seat belts and head restraints

Basic vehicle crash protection features including seat belts, airbags and head restraints can mean the difference between life and death in a crash. Use this page to access research on the life-saving benefits of these features, and measures to increase their use.

Self-reported and observed seat belt use – A case study: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering, Belgrade, Serbia, 31/08/15

There is a difference in seat belt wearing between rural and urban areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rear seat safety: Variation in protection by occupant, crash and vehicle characteristics
University of Pennsylvania, 22/04/15

Protection for passengers in rear seats, mostly children and adolescents, has not kept up with the improvements for occupants in front seats.

New vehicle technologies and extension of EU infrastructure safety rules could prevent thousands of collisions on motorways
ETSC, 05/03/15

60% of people killed on EU motorways in 2013 weren’t wearing a seatbelt.

The Northern Ireland survey of seat belt wearing 2014
Northern Ireland Executive, 03/07/14

5% of children and 8% of adults in Northern Ireland do not wear seat belts in the back.

Restraint use and injury patterns of young drivers and passengers admitted to hospitals in New South Wales, Australia
University of New South Wales, Australia, 22/09/14

Analysis of the characteristics and injury outcomes of occupants aged 17 to 25 years injured in crashes in New South Wales, with a focus on restraint use.

Patterns of acute whiplash-associated disorder in the Lithuanian population after road traffic accidents
Lithuanian University of Health Sciences., 13/10/14

Whiplash-associated injuries were present in patients in Lithuania who were not previously aware of the condition.

Traffic rule violations and traffic crash history for young drivers
Ege University, Turkey, 12/07/14

Young drivers who sometimes don’t wear seat belts are more likely to be involved in crashes than those who always belt up.

Getting it to click: connecting teens and seat belt use
Governors Highway Safety Association, 08/07/14

The number of teenage drivers involved in fatal crashes in the US who were not wearing seat belts increased 6% from 2010 to 2012.

Seat Belt Use in the USA in 2013
Department of Transportation, 30/05/14

Seat belt use in the USA has increased from 81% in 2006 to 87% in 2013, with rates varying by state from 69% to 98%.

Ranking EU Progress on Car Occupant Safety
ETSC, 29/04/14

Mandatory front and rear passenger seat belt reminder sensors could save 900 lives every year in the European Union.

Analysis of Passenger Vehicle Driver Restraint Use in Fatal Crashes
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 30/09/13

Drivers with BAC over 150mg alcohol/100ml blood are four times more likely to drive without seat belts than sober drivers.

Seat-belt use still low in Kuwait: self-reported driving behaviours among adult drivers
Duke University, 11/09/13

Only two in five (42%) drivers and three in 10 (31%) front seat passengers in Kuwait always wear a seat belt.

The rate of seat belt use and its related factors among car drivers in Tehran, Iran after imposing new regulations
Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Iran., 11/09/13

Seat belt use remains low in Tehran, at 70%, despite new legislation.

Seat-belted drivers have twice the death risk when passenger behind isn't wearing a belt
University of Virginia, 01/04/13

Drivers wearing seat belts are more than twice as likely to be killed in a front-impact crash when the passenger behind the driver is not wearing a seat belt.

WHO Global status report on road safety 2013
World Health Organisation, 15/03/13

Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on drink-driving, speeding, and helmet, seat belt and child restraint use.

Crash casualties increase during public holidays in Canada
McGill University, 18/12/12

Crash casualties increase during public holidays in Canada because fewer people wear seatbelts.

Seat belt reminder systems improve seat belt use by 82%
Karolinska Institutet, 04/05/12

Seat belt reminder systems improve seat belt use by 82%.

Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (SBUCMVD) 2010 Survey
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 18/05/11

HGV driver seatbelt use in the US has steadily risen from 65% in 2006 to 78% in 2010.

No restraint? Understanding differences in seat belt use between fatal crashes
Centre for Automotive Safety Research, 04/04/11

People who don't wear seatbelts are more likely to be young, take drugs and engage in extreme behaviour.

Seat Belt Use Among Overweight and Obese Adolescents
The University of Toledo, 14/01/11

In the US, Obese adolescent passengers are 72% more likely to never or rarely wear their seat belts as normal weight adolescent passengers.

Strategies to Increase Seat Belt Use: An Analysis of Levels of Fines And the Type of Law
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 14/01/11

Increasing penalties for failure to wear a seat-belt for US drivers increases compliance.

Intelligent seat belt reminders-do they change driver seat belt use in Europe?
Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Sweden, 20/04/09

Seat belt reminders in cars are increasing seat belt use significantly.

Seat-belts and child restraints: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioner
World Health Organisation, 01/01/09

It draws on experience from countries that have succeeded in achieving and sustaining high levels of restraint use. It includes recommendations for developing and implementing technical standards.

Seat belt wearing laws
Department for Transport, UK, 01/02/08

Seatbelt-wearing laws in the UK have helped save 60,000 lives and 670,000 serious injuries since January 2003.

Reining in Whiplash
European Transport Safety Council, 09/08/07

More than one million people in Europe suffer whiplash every year, at an estimated cost to society of up to 10billion euros. Reports on the dangers of whiplash and actions to combat it.

Are you ready to drive: crash protection
Brake, the road safety charity, UK, 01/01/05

Two thirds of UK drivers are risking whiplash because head restraints are incorrectly positioned finds this survey of 800 drivers.

The actual threat posed by unrestrained rear seat car passengers
Transport Research Laboratory, 01/07/04

The risk of death to a front seat car occupant is increased by about three-quarters by the presence of an unrestrained rear seat passenger behind them, a much smaller increase than was claimed.

Passenger seating position and the risk of passenger death or injury in traffic crashes
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, 16/03/03

It estimates that the rear seat passenger position may reduce the risk of death in a motor vehicle crash by about 39% and reduce the risk of death or serious injury in a crash by 33%.


Email me fortnightly updates 
on events and resources

Follow us

twitter_32 youtube_32 wordpress_32

Join Brake Professional

and access our suite of professional road safety tools