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Over Quarter of drivers and passengers killed on Irish roads in 2021 were not wearing a seat belt.

Seatbelts 21.02.2022


  • 27%* of fatalities were not wearing seat belt in 2021
  • 10%* of those seriously injured between 2017 to 2020 not wearing a seatbelt
  • 17% of motorists say they don’t always wear a seat belt in the back seat1

 The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are urging drivers and passengers to always wear a seat belt on every journey. The call comes as an analysis, by the RSA, of provisional garda statistics from 2021, shows that 27%* of drivers and passengers killed in road traffic collisions, were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Analysis of provisional collision data from 2017 to 2020 shows that 10%* of vehicle occupants seriously were not wearing a seat belt. (See Tables 1 & 2)

Separately, results of new attitudinal research of drivers’ attitudes and behaviour* released today by the RSA, found that while 96% of motorists say they always use a seat belt as a driver, this figure drops to 83% when people are travelling in the back seat of a car.

Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD: “If you are over 17, you are legally responsible for wearing your seat belt in a vehicle.  While a seat belt won’t prevent a crash, it could save your life if you are involved in a collision. This should be reason enough to wear one. No matter how long or short your journey, always wear a seat belt because as we have heard all too often from survivors of collisions - all it takes is a split second for a crash to happen.”

Mr Sam Waide, CEO of the RSA, said: “Seat belts are proven life savers and putting one on before starting a journey is second nature for most of us. Unfortunately, the collision data and our recent attitudinal study shows that there are some who take huge risks by not wearing one. I am concerned that only 83% of rear seat passengers tell us they always use a seat belt. Not being restrained in the back seat of a car means that in the event of a collision, you will be thrown around the vehicle at extremely high force, risking serious injury to both yourself and others in the car. Failing to put on your seat belt doesn’t just increase the likelihood of you being killed or seriously injured, it’s a potential killer behaviour. I would argue that not wearing a seat belt is not just dangerous but selfish too. I would ask drivers to always ensure that they and their passengers are wearing their seatbelt before starting a journey.”

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, Roads Policing and Community Engagement, An Garda Síochána added:

“Seatbelts save lives. Unfortunately emergency services personnel including Gardaí, continue to arrive at scenes of traffic collisions and witness first-hand the devastating injuries sustained by drivers and passengers because they were not wearing a seatbelt.

Provisional data from 2021, shows that 27%* of drivers and passengers killed in road traffic collisions, were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Last year Gardaí issued 7,248 Fixed charge penalty notices for seat belt offences. This figure shows that a high number of people continue to take unnecessary risks on our roads, are not listening to advice or changing their behaviour.”

“Every occupant in a vehicle is required by law to wear a seat belt and the responsibility lies with the driver to ensure that all people under the age of 17 wear a seatbelt or have a proper child restraint. If a driver is detected not wearing a seatbelt, they risk three penalty points and a fine of €60. Passengers over 17 may be fined €60 for not wearing a seatbelt.

Seatbelt compliance is one of our priority lifesaver enforcement areas for 2022.  Our message from An Garda Síochána is clear – “Seat belts save lives, please wear them.”

Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death among drivers and front seat passengers by half, and the risk of death and serious injuries among rear seat occupants by a quarter.

*Figures are provisional and subject to change.   

[1] Figures sourced from the Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey, sample size: 1,220 motorists aged 17+. Fieldwork conducted in November 2021.

Table 1, Seatbelts status of driver and passenger fatalities where vehicle was fitted with seatbelt, 2021

   Seatbelt status     
 No unknown Yes Total 
Road userN%N%N%N%
Driver and passenger24272630384388100

Figures are provisional and subject to change


Table 2, Seat belt status of seriously injured drivers and passengers in seat belt equipped vehicles, 2017-2020 


Figures are provisional and subject to change.