Buckle up… and save your life

March 22, 2021

Our everyday lives are very much connected to vehicles; almost every day we use our own car or order taxis. But, have you ever noticed how often you do not have access to the seat belts in the back of a taxi, or the special “plugs” used in the front to mute the car’s seat belt reminder system?

The colleagues we have been speaking to indicated that on average half of the taxis are not equipped with duly functioning seat belts in the back. And this is in Kyiv, where the rate of using seat belts both by front and back seat passengers is the highest in Ukraine.

A recent survey showed that as little as 12% of Ukrainians always buckle up in the back seat. There are several reasons why back seat passengers do not buckle up; 28% say that lack of access to seat belts is the reason, 21% simply forget, 14% feel they are safe without seat belts, 12% explain that they ‘fully trust their driver’, and 10% simply find that seat belts are unimportant during short trips or when driving at low speed.

The reasons to buckle up are rock-solid. Data from the World Health Organisation documents that seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 75% for back seat occupants and by 50% for front seat occupants.

Still not convinced? Moreover, still according to the World Health Organisation, hospitalisation, treatment, and rehabilitation of road traffic casualties represent a colossal cost for national health services. Depending on a country’s development level, road traffic injuries cost up to 3.9% of a country’s gross domestic product. This is an additional vast national financial incentive – still partly undiscovered in Ukraine.

In the recent survey, conducted in December 2020, respondents voiced that a fine below 600 UAH (19 EUR) would not influence their non-use behavior. Therefore, when the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on 16 February 2021 adopted new legislation, which increases the previous fine by 10 times from UAH 51 (1.5 EUR) to UAH 510 (15.50 EUR), a further reason to buckle-up was added to the list.

The passing of this new law perfectly coincides with an almost three-month-long public information campaign, launched this week by the European Union Advisory Mission in Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) in conjunction with the Department of Patrol Police. The national multi-channel campaign is a first step to changing the widespread habit in Ukraine of not buckling up in the back seat. See the joint press release on the campaign launch here.

Since 2014, EUAM Ukraine has been working with its Ukrainian counterparts, including the Patrol Police, to support a sustainable reform of the civilian security sector. This Road Traffic Safety campaign contributes to the Ukrainian Community Safety Strategy implemented by the Ukrainian police with support from EUAM Ukraine.