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Aug 21, 2014

Debunking seatbelt myth with Healthy Living

Frequent reports on traffic accidents in our nightly newscasts; and that’s because we don’t even get a chance to report on all traffic mishaps that take place. Road Traffic Accidents or RTA’s are among the leading causes of death in Belize; and even if the accident does not result in a fatality, the impact of the injuries can also linger. And no matter how many times we hear that “seatbelt saves lives” it’s still not as common a practice as it should be. In Belize, it is mandated that front seat passengers use seatbelts, but the regulations are being updated to include using seatbelts use for back seat passengers and the proper use of child safety seats. So tonight, we speak with a road safety expert to examine several of the common reasons people claim not to use seatbelts.


Darren Divall, Road Safety Expert
“The seatbelt is the single most effective invention in vehicle safety that has ever been invented.”


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
Darren Divall is a road safety expert & consultant working with the Belize Road Safety initiative.


Darren Divall

“We’ve been developing a road safety curriculum for the schools to deliver and some supporting and instructional materials for the teachers as well. If you look at all the data on child development, between the ages of two to five, they are like a sponge absorbing everything. They start to formulate all their attitudes and beliefs from that early age. So we need to get them really early.”


Darren Divall

In his experience teaching the merits of safe driving practices, Darren has encountered many excuses from drivers – especially when it comes to strapping in. In Belize, the excuses are no less or no different.


Darren Divall

“Their most common reason is that “oh I’m just not in the habit of putting on a seat belt.” In many countries its second nature now, but statistically even though it’s the main answer for both males and females, its more common reason self-reported by females.  They just don’t think about it when they get into the car. We need to raise awareness about why we need to use it. So the safety benefits for example we don’t want people ejected from a vehicle, that is the main priority of a seatbelt. If you’re ejected from a vehicle, any crash three quarters of those people will die.  I suppose with enforcement what we’re trying to do is to create a fear factor that you will be caught and you will be fined or penalty points on your license id that’s the way the legislation goes. So you’re creating a fear factor that there will be a penalty from it. And that is one of the wayswe can change behavior but they still need to understand why. Otherwise they feel it’s just something forced upon them and if they understand the benefits of why they need to wear it; it will become a habit as to why we wear a seatbelt.”


Another common excuse that people use; is that seatbelts can endanger you as well.


Darren Divall

“The second most common is peoples fear is that they’ll crash and land in a ditch of water and they won’t be able to get out because they are trapped by their seatbelt. That actually happens only in about one percent of all crashes. Just because you’re upside down or even water, doesn’t mean your buckle won’t be able to release you. It depends on the characteristics of the crash.”


What about those of us, who don’t hesitate to use seatbelt BUT only when we’re on the road where people drive at faster speeds and only if you’re in the driver or front passenger seat of the vehicle.


Darren Divall

“Even at thirty miles an hour, the impact can be really significant where your body weight increases significantly up to like thirty times. You are now the weight of an elephant waiting for something or someone in the vehicle to stop you when you crash into them. And that’s only at thirty miles an hour. So there are significant injuries you can get. If you are sitting in the rear of a vehicle and you hit the back of one of one of those that have their seatbelts on, you are gonna crush them…you are going to hit your head against their head. Your head is quite hard in the front and theirs is soft at the back. So you have the responsibility there to the driver or the front seat passenger. But you can sustain just the same amount of injury sitting in the back seat as you can if you are sitting in the front seat of a vehicle. So the injury element is actually the same.”


It is expected that within the next year the new seatbelt regulations will come into effect. So if you’re not in the practice of buckling up; it’s time to develop the habit as you’ll soon be unable to use any of these excuses.


Darren Divall

“The science behind wearing a seatbelt it doesn’t matter where you apply it; it is exactly the same. It might be that other countries have gone ahead and had seatbelt legislation prior to Belize that includes the front and the rear of vehicles. It might be that someone will be behind Belize as well. But the principles of a seatbelt and why it works and the child car seat and how and why that works are exactly the same wherever you are in the world.  Seatbelts safe lives and that’s the main thing. It is just that some countries have gone through and pushed those forward earlier. But we need to get rid of these myths that we’ve talked about seat belts, but also the myths that car seats are expensive. Because if you think about what cost you would put on your child’s life, I’m sure you would be happy to pay that cost.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Debunking seatbelt myth with Healthy Living”

  1. tashybze says:

    Like in in states. Click it or ticket. And should also looking into child carseats for the children.

  2. reatph says:

    getting more Americanized

  3. steven says:

    there is nothing Americanized about wearing seatbelts. Why do my fellow Belizeans think wearing a seatbelt is like sending you to the corner cause you did something wrong. Seats save lives!! If you do not get then there is no hope for you!!!!

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