A survey of seat belt use

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Out of the 18 districts which constitute the Ashanti region, Kumasi Metropolitan Area (KMA) alone, accounted for 22.6% of the fatalities that occurred through road traffic crashes, from 2008-2009. Approximately 22.6% of these fatalities were vehicle occupants. In the wake of this carnage on KMA’s roads and the fact that seat belts have been proven to save lives in road traffic crashes, the cardinal objectives of this study were to conduct observation survey to determine the extent of seat belt use among drivers and front-right seat passengers and also to ascertain the attitudes of people towards seat belt use in the Kumasi Metropolitan Area. Observations of seat belt use were conducted at 31selected observations sites which were mostly signalized intersections and toll booths, where vehicles were momentarily stopped. Attitudinal survey was also carried out at bus terminals, taxi ranks and parking lots. The data was analysed using Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and SPSS. The overall seat belt wearing rate in the Kumasi Metropolitan Area was 18.30%. The wearing rates for drivers and front-right passengers were 24.40% and 8.10% respectively. Private car drivers (33.40%) were more likely to use seat belts compared with bus drivers (29.10%), taxi drivers (12.20%), truck drivers (19.8%) and minibus drivers (18.80%). Female drivers (48.0%) were more likely to use seat belts than male drivers (22.90%). Seat belt use was highest in the outskirts of town (24.02%) and lowest in the CBD (15.90%). The primary reasons for non-use of seat belts were No/Faulty seat belts (81.10%), Forgetfulness (73.90%) and lackadaisical attitude towards enforcement of seat belt laws (75.90%). The use of seat belt was generally low in the Kumasi Metropolitan Area and it depended on seating position, gender, vehicle type and location. Wearing rate was low because most vehicles do not have seat belts and the serious laxity in the enforcement of seat belt laws. Concerted efforts are therefore required by the National Road Safety Commission, police and civil society to improve road safety in the Kumasi Metropolitan Area in particular and nationally in general, by ensuring mandatory retrofitting of seat belts in all vehicles that do not have, preferably free of charge and strict enforcement of the seat belt laws.
A thesis submitted to the College of Engineering in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the award of the degree of Master of Science.
Seat belt use, Front-seat passenger, Driver, Observation survey, Attitudinal survey, Ghana