Key result

In 2014, the safety belt wearing rate for drivers and adult front seat passengers was 97 percent. This is an increase from 96 percent observed in 2012 (see Table 1).

Introduction

The Ministry of Transport conducts and collates information for a number of road safety surveys every year. Survey topics include child restraints, safety belt use, speed and the annual Public Attitudes to Road Safety survey.

The latest national survey of safety belt use in New Zealand by adults in the front seats of cars and vans was carried out in March and April 2014. More than 90,000 drivers and adult front seat passengers were observed at 274 sites around the country. As in previous years, each site was surveyed between 10 am and 12 pm on normal working weekdays during the school term. In 2012, the survey moved from being an annual survey, to being run every 2 years.

Statistical significance of changes and sample sizes

Changes from the previous survey are only commented on if they are found to be statistically significant at the 5 percent level; that is, the change in the wearing rate observed in the survey is likely to reflect a real change in the wearing rate. The accuracy of the wearing rates shown here depends on the sample sizes (the number of vehicle occupants observed). If the sample size is small, the data may show large random fluctuations in the observed wearing rate.

Trends

Table 1 shows the wearing rates for various categories of front seat occupant for the last 10 surveys.

Table 1: Safety belt wearing rates for front seat adults by category for the past ten surveys (%)

Category

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2014

Urban

93

94

94

94

94

95

95

95

96

*96

Open road

95

96

97

96

96

96

97

97

97

*98

Drivers

94

95

95

95

95

96

96

96

96

*97

Passengers

94

95

96

95

95

95

96

95

96

*97

Males

92

93

94

94

93

94

95

95

95

*96

Male drivers

93

94

94

94

94

95

95

95

95

*97

Male passengers

89

90

93

90

91

90

92

92

93

*94

Females

96

96

97

97

97

97

98

97

97

*98

Female drivers

96

96

97

97

97

97

98

97

97

*98

Female passengers

96

96

97

97

96

97

97

97

97

*98

All New Zealand

94

95

95

95

95

95

96

96

96

*97

* Statistically significant change from previous survey. The change for urban roads is an improvement. Due to rounding this is not clear on the table.

Figure 1: Safety belt wearing rates for front seat adults, 1996-2014

Graph showing front-seat safety-belt wearing rate trendsRegional Wearing Rates

These restraint wearing surveys are designed to provide a consistent measure of safety belt use over time by surveying the same sites in each region each year.

Table 2 shows the safety belt wearing rates in each local government region over the last ten years. In 2014, at least 3,100 drivers and front seat occupants were surveyed in each region, except in Gisborne where 1,253 occupants were surveyed.

Safety belt usage has increased significantly since last survey in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. It has decreased significantly since the last survey in Waikato, Taranaki and West Coast. Other regions (Northland, Nelson-Marlborough-Tasman and Southland) have not changed markedly since the last survey.  

In the 2011 survey, three Canterbury sites were not included due to the effect of the 22 February 2011 Christchurch quake. The sample size for Christchurch and the Canterbury region was therefore smaller in 2011 by 2,500 people. From the 2012 survey onwards, these sites have been re-included although the numbers measured at these sites are still low.

Table 2: Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by local government region for the past ten surveys (%)

Local government region

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2014

Northland

93

93

98

99

90

87

95

93

94

94

Auckland

96

97

97

96

96

96

97

96

95

*97

Waikato

94

96

94

95

97

95

97

96

98

*98

Bay of Plenty

95

93

95

94

93

96

97

95

96

*97

Gisborne

92

92

96

78

85

86

89

91

85

*97

Hawke’s Bay

91

91

97

94

89

97

97

92

93

*96

Taranaki

92

96

95

95

96

96

98

98

98

*97

Manawatu-Wanganui

92

92

96

96

96

95

95

96

96

*97

Wellington

94

96

96

95

95

95

95

96

97

*98

Nelson/ Marlborough/ Tasman

96

97

97

97

97

98

98

97

98

98

West Coast

93

94

95

95

96

96

97

98

98

*96

Canterbury

94

95

94

97

96

96

96

97

97

*98

Otago

94

94

95

95

97

97

95

94

95

*97

Southland

96

97

95

95

96

96

96

95

95

95

All New Zealand

94

95

95

95

95

95

96

96

96

*97

* Statistically significant change from previous survey. The change for Waikato from 98 percent is not apparent due to rounding.

Note: Gisborne region is most affected by sample size effects, with a sample size of 600-900 occupants in the surveys between 2003-2012. Typically, sample sizes in other regions have been over 3400 occupants since 2003

Metropolitan Area Wearing Rates

Table 3 shows the wearing rates for selected metropolitan areas from 2004. Results from the previous cities of North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland and Manukau are now incorporated into Auckland, following their amalgamation in 2010. The observed front safety belt wearing rate has increased in Dunedin and in Auckland, and has not significantly changed in the other metropolitan areas.

Table 3: Front seat adult safety belt wearing rates by metropolitan area (%)

Metropolitan area

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2014

Auckland*

96

97

97

96

96

96

97

96

95

97

Hamilton

96

99

98

95

96

95

97

97

98

98

Tauranga

97

97

98

99

95

96

98

97

97

97

Wellington City

97

98

98

92

98

99

97

98

98

98

Christchurch**

97

97

97

96

95

96

98

 

98

99

- western  Christchurch

 

 

 

 

 

 

98

96

 

 

Dunedin

92

97

94

97

98

98

99

95

97

98

* Prior to 2010, Auckland regional wearing rate shown.

** In 2011 the sample size dropped from over 1500, to 699 people as the sampled area no longer covered the eastern half of the city due to effects of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake - the results for the western sites in Christchurch in 2010 are included as an indicative comparison. The normal sites were resumed in 2012.

Statistically significant change from previous survey.

Local Authority, Police District and Police Area Wearing Rates

Further breakdowns of wearing rates by local authority, police district and police area are available in the attached spreadsheets and document.