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Transport Canada's Surveys of Seat Belt Use in Canada, 2004-2005

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Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation
Transport Canada

Road Safety Fact Sheet
TP2436 E
RS-2006-01E
February 2006



BACKGROUND

The National Occupant Restraint Program (NORP) is an important element of Road Safety Vision 2010 – an ambitious partnership approved by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for transportation and highway safety to make Canada's roads the safest in the world. The objective of NORP is to achieve a minimum rate of 95% in seat belt usage and in the proper use of child restraints by all motor vehicle occupants by 2010. Part of Transport Canada's contribution to this program is to conduct observational surveys of seat belt use. In September 2004, Transport Canada conducted an observational survey of seat belt use in rural communities across Canada. In September 2005, the same survey was conducted in urban communities.

METHOD

The September 2004 and September 2005 surveys measured the seat belt usage rate separately in rural Canada and urban Canada. Rural Canada was defined as towns with a population of less than 10,000 but more than 1,000 that are located outside any census metropolitan area, as defined by Statistics Canada's 2001 national census. Urban Canada was defined as communities with a population over 10,000, plus those communities with a population of less than 10,000 that are located within a census metropolitan area.

The rural survey targeted all the occupants of light duty vehicles including passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The survey occurred over the week of September 22 to September 28, 2004, and involved 252 sites. Each observation period was two hours long and took place during daylight hours (between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.). A total of 39,769 vehicles and 58,743 occupants were observed during the course of the study.

The urban survey targeted all occupants of light duty vehicles including passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs. This survey, which was conducted over the week of September 15 to September 21, 2005, involved two separate observation periods at each of 263 sites. Each observation period was one hour long and took place during daylight hours (between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.). A total of 84,129 vehicles and 118,226 occupants were observed during the course of the study.

Therefore, during the two surveys, a total of 123,898 vehicles and 176,969 occupants were observed at 515 sites across Canada.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • In Canada, 90.5% (± 0.2%) of occupants of light-duty vehicles buckle up. In urban communities, an estimated 91.1% (± 0.2%) of all occupants, while an estimated 86.9% (± 0.7%) of all occupants of light-duty vehicles in rural communities use seat belts. The national seat belt usage rate measured in the 2004-2005 surveys is is about 4 percentage points higher than that measured in the 2002-2003 surveys.
     
  • The rate of seat belt usage in Canada is much lower among occupants of pickup trucks (84.8%) than among occupants of passenger cars (91.9%) and minivans and SUVs (91.9%). Specifically looking at drivers, the rates were 92.4% for passenger cars, 91.9% for minivans and SUVs, and 85.5% for pickup trucks. Similar trends were evident in both the rural and urban communities of the country.
     
  • A higher percentage of female drivers wore seat belts (93.9%) than male drivers (89.8%) in Canada. The higher rate of seat belt usage by females was consistent across all three vehicle types and all provinces and territories.
     
  • The proportion of drivers wearing seat belts tends to increase with the driver's age group, but this finding is not consistent across all jurisdictions. In Canada as a whole, the proportion ranges from 87.0% of those under 25, to 91.8% of those 25 to 49 and 92.1% of those 50 and older.
     
  • The rate of seat belt usage in Canada is lower among the back seat occupants (84.9%) than among the front seat occupants (90.5%). The higher rate of seat belt use by front seat occupant is generally consistent across all jurisdictions with a few exceptions.

CONCLUSION

Road Safety Vision 2010 is targeting a decrease of 30% in the average annual number of road users killed or seriously injured during the 2008-2010 period compared with 1996 2001. Sub targets include reducing casualties resulting from non-use of restraint systems and decreasing casualties resulting from crashes occurring on rural roadways.

The urban and rural seat belt wearing surveys summarized here represent one of a number of important Vision 2010 initiatives undertaken by the NORP Task Force. The survey results will help build a business case for the adoption of measures to increase seat belt usage rates in Canada by 2010.

The results suggest that Canada is making some progress toward the 95% target for seat belt use for all occupants of light duty vehicles.

PDF VERSION

You may download the full report Transport Canada's Surveys of Seat Belt Use in Canada, 2004-2005 in Portable Document Format (PDF) (145 Kb).

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If you need an alternative format or for more information, please contact us by e-mail at RoadSafetyWebMail@tc.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-333-0371 (Ottawa area (613) 998-8616).

Date modified:
2012-02-06