Singapore

Buckle up at the back to avoid severe injuries

Stuck in the back of a car in the morning rush hour, and not buckled up?

A local study suggests that passengers that fall in these two categories are at a higher risk of sustaining severe injuries when involved in a road accident.

Rear-seat passengers who did not wear their seatbelts were about 45 per cent more likely to sustain severe injuries, as compared to front-seat passengers and drivers.

In addition, over 30 per cent of passengers who travelled between 7am and 10am without wearing seatbelts sustained severe injuries, such as major head injuries and bleeding from pelvic fractures. This is about 10 per cent higher than at any other time of the day.

"Our study shows that more than half of back seat passengers do not wear seatbelts, which makes them vulnerable to severe injuries," said Dr Wong Ting Hway, a consultant at the Department of General Surgery at the Singapore General Hospital, who led the research study.

"With our results, we hope these groups could be targeted in future road safety campaigns because they are at risk of sustaining more severe injuries."

The study, which was supported by the Ministry of Health's National Trauma Committee, investigated the use of seatbelts in Singapore, examining the data of some 4,600 patients who were involved in traffic accidents and were admitted to the emergency departments of five public hospitals.

When The Straits Times spoke to private hire car drivers, many said that while front-seat passengers do buckle up, those who sit at the back tend not to.

Mr Gerard Pereira, 60, training manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said that though education and emphasis have been put in training, commuters may need more reminders to wear their seatbelts.

"While more cars now have a beeping sound to alert drivers and front-seat passengers to put on their seatbelts, I think car manufacturers can do more to incorporate such safety features, ensuring that rear-seat passengers buckle up as well."

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