Dáil Éireann - Volume 359 - 06 June, 1985
Written Answers. - Road Traffic Accidents.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
109. Mr. Manning asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that two-thirds  of those killed or injured in road traffic accidents in 1984 were not wearing safety belts; if he feels that stricter penalties for non-compliance with the law would be desirable; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Kavanagh) Liam Kavanagh
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Kavanagh): Provisional figures compiled by the Garda Síochána show that 463 persons were killed and 7,781 injured in 1984. Final figures and detailed analysis of them will not be available until later this year.
A detailed analysis of road traffic accidents is however, available for 1983 in the Foras Forbartha report “Accident Facts 1983”. On the safety belt aspect, information as to whether those killed or injured were wearing safety belts is not available in all cases. Where such information is available, the report shows that of 142 drivers and front seat passengers killed in 1983, 106 or 75 per cent were not wearing safety belts. Of 2,779 drivers and front seat passengers injured, 1,112 or 40 per cent were not wearing safety belts.
Prosecutions by the Garda Síochána of front seat car occupants, for failure to comply with the safety belt wearing regulations, totalled 13,119 in 1983. This represents an increase of 31 per cent on the 10,081 similar prosecutions in 1982. The prosecution figures for 1984 are not yet available.
I have already taken action to increase the mandatory penalties for non-compliance with the safety belt regulations. The Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, 1984 increased the relevant maximum monetary penalty from £20 to £150 for a first offence, and from £50 to £350 for a second or subsequent offence. In addition, persons convicted of a second or subsequent offence remain liable, at the discretion of the court, to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months.
I have, on several occasions, expressed my concern about the need for a substantial increase in the use of safety belts. I believe that low safety belt wearing rates  do not generally represent a conscious defiance of the law but reflect a combination of insufficient public awareness generally of the benefits of using safety belts and forgetfulness on the part of from seat occupants. In publicity campaigns conducted in the period leading up to Christmas 1984 and the New Year, the National Road Safety Association, with the co-operation of the Garda authorities, laid special emphasis on the wearing of safety belts. I have provided an increase of 34 per cent in non-pay funding to the National Road Safety Association in 1985, the major purpose of which is to enable the Association to pursue an extended publicity campaign this year on safety belt wearing.
Dáil Éireann 359 Written Answers. Road Traffic Accidents.