Not Wearing Seatbelt Tops Traffic Violations

Not Wearing Seatbelt  Tops Traffic ViolationsNot Wearing Seatbelt  Tops Traffic Violations

Ten years after it became mandatory for drivers to wear seatbelts, this traffic violation is still the most frequently committed by Iranian drivers.

In 2005 seatbelts was declared compulsory for front seat passengers and in the following years for rear seat occupants in vehicles on inter-city roadways.

According to a World Health Organization report, 90% of Iranian drivers and 80% of front seat passengers used a seatbelt in 2010. However, this national rate may mask significant differences in population subgroups as use of seatbelts has been reported to vary significantly in urban and rural areas.

A report on Donya-e-Khodro website cited five most common road rules violations by drivers in Iran. Not wearing the safety seatbelt tops the list followed by speeding, running the red light, violating lane discipline and entering the capital’s restricted  traffic zones without a permit.

More recently use of cell phones behind the wheel has become a major nuisance and a danger to road safety regulations.

“In the first six months of the current Iranian year (began March 21), the number of traffic tickets issued for not wearing a seatbelt exceeded 18,000, in the northern Golestan Province alone,” said Col. Ali Reza Qadami, chief of the provincial Road Traffic Police.

The reason for the habitual offense is that drivers say they are not used to wearing seatbelts, and forget to apply the rule.

Driver and passenger behavior play an important role in seatbelt use. Gender, age, educational level, income, marital status, religiosity, race and even BMI (body mass index) have been reported to be determinants of seatbelt use worldwide.

Driving culture such as speed, mobile phone use while driving, alcohol or drug use, smoking, rash driving and lack of sleep also influence seatbelt use.

 Accidents Preventable

The rate of road accidents and their ensuing human and financial loss is alarming. According to national statistics, the economic cost of traffic accidents is huge - 200 trillion rials ($6 billion) per year for 15 million registered vehicles. Each year, road mishaps kill nearly 28,000 people in Iran, and injure/disable 300,000 more.

Although about half the fatalities are related to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists combined, the other half occur among vehicle occupants, of which a large number are preventable if seat belts are used.

According to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety for 2013, four-wheeled vehicles (cars and light vehicles, heavy trucks, and buses) were responsible for a death rate of 48% (22% drivers and 26% passengers) in Iran in 2010.

Vehicle and road safety factors can also be predictors of wearing a seatbelt.

The type of vehicle and vehicle equipment such as electronic stability control devices and air conditioning encourage drivers to wear a seatbelt.

Although seatbelts are a relatively low-cost safety device that provides simple and basic protection for passenger vehicle occupants, a sizeable part of vehicular traffic in Iran is comprised of old and dilapidated cars that do not have seatbelts.

Nevertheless, the odds are that law-breakers are likely to resist using seatbelts, and are also prone to being involved in crashes.

In the past, UN agencies, the World Bank and Iranian experts have stated that road crashes and consequent deaths constituted a socioeconomic crisis in Iran.

In 2012, the WHO said in a report that Iran had the highest number of deaths caused by road accidents in the world.