Drivers and passengers in Ireland are being urged to always wear a seat belt on every journey after new research has found more people are failing to buckle up.

The call has come from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), after it found that seatbelt wearing rates decreased among drivers and front seat passengers between 2022 and 2023.

The research was a manual observational study of seat belt wearing of drivers and passengers conducted in September-October 2023. A nationally representative sample was used and observations took place in all 26 counties.

Key findings included that seat belt wearing rates by drivers decreased by four per cent, from 99 per cent to 95 per cent, when compared to 2022. A five per cent decrease was recorded for front seat passengers, from 99 per cent to 94 per cent. While rear-seat passenger seat belt wearing rates increased overall by two per cent from 93 to 95 per cent, compliance was lower for those travelling on rural roads.

In addition, a European survey of more than 37,000 road users, including 901 in Ireland, revealed one in ten motorists travelled without wearing a seat belt at least once in the last 30 days, as did front seat passengers. One in five also admitted to travelling in the back seat without a seatbelt.

“I am really concerned to see the decline in seatbelt use,” said Jack Chambers TD, Minister for State at the Department of Transport.

“It is a very real risk and potential killer behaviour which increases the likelihood of a driver or passenger being killed or seriously injured. Drivers need to take responsibility for themselves and their passengers. Seatbelts save lives, and choosing not to wear one is not only dangerous, but selfish too.”