The seat belts have become a society norm since 1967 when majority of car manufacturers started installing them into their vehicles. It became a cheap and effective way to increase road safety. More than 50 years later we have mandatory requirements across the European Union to use seat belts in car, yet the number of fatalities caused by not wearing the seat belt is still relatively high. In fact, it is the second most common reason of road accident fatalities. Several studies by independent research institutes in EU have claimed that successful enforcement of seat belts wearing could save more than 7 300 EU citizens every year.
Legal enforcement, society education about seat belts have had a positive effect on road safety in Lithuania. Wearing seat belts in front seats have become a norm and almost everyone does follow legal requirements regarding this. However, there is still a lot of room for an improvement, as only every third person in Lithuania does fasten the seat belt when sitting in the backseat. Moreover, seat belts in coaches became a standard back in 2007 yet it has been a forgotten topic and only a small number of people do remember to fasten their seat belts during their trips.
With a renewal of bus park across Lithuania, majority of buses do have seat belts which are comfortable and perfectly fit for usage. However, wearing a seat belt in bus when travelling from one city to another is still more of an exception rather than a norm. In the summer of 2018 Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration (hereinafter – LTSA) has decided to end this stalemate and raise awareness to the problem of seat belts waring in coaches.
Several accidents which have involved coaches during 2017 and 2018 have highlighted the issue of almost non-existent seat belt wearing in coaches. Following up with an in-depth analysis of current tendencies in coach trips there has been an agreement that this topic has a lot of room for safety improvements with wearing of seat belts being the focus point.
In the late summer of 2018 LTSA has started the initiative to tackle mentioned problems and to change current tendencies of seat belts waring in coaches. The campaign is still out-going and involved many layers of institutions, social movements and society itself. Different methods and approaches have been selected to increase the safety of bus trips around Lithuania. Various activities have already taken the place and LTSA specialists have generated an action plan to ensure sustainability and efficiency of the campaign.
“I fasten my seat belt – I travel safely” campaign is expected to educate Lithuanian citizens that seat belts could improve the safety of their trips with coaches. This topic has been overlooked for a while now and it is reflected by the data gathered during the initial research of LTSA. According to its results citizens do know the positive affect of seat belts (62 % of representatives), yet only every tenth person do fasten their seat belts during their trips across Lithuania (13,9 % of representatives).
The campaign “I fasten my seat belt – I travel safely” is expected to yield the increase of number of people who wear seat belts during their trips with coaches. By the end of 2019 this number should mark more than 20% - doubling the initial number which has been recorded in spring of 2018. The sustainable growth is also expected in the upcoming years.