Campaign to 'belt up' in rear car seats

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THE NUMBER of back seat car passengers wearing seat belts has dropped sharply, prompting the Government to renew its 'clunk click' campaign.

Although wearing belts in rear seats - where provided - was made compulsory in July 1991, today only 45 per cent of adults are wearing them. Only 80 per cent of cars are fitted with rear belts, but even where fitted, 43 per cent of adults and 11 per cent of children still do not wear them.

Young men are particularly averse to putting on seat belts, with only 29 per cent in the 16- 20 male age group wearing them.

Overall, the number of people belting up in the back of the car rose to 62 per cent in April 1993 after a similar publicity campaign, but dropped back in October to 57 per cent.

Robert Key, the Minister for Roads and Traffic, said: 'My main message is not 'wear a seatbelt because it's the law', but 'where there's a belt, wear it. It could save your life.' '

Two rear seat passengers a week are killed and three a day seriously injured because they are not wearing a seat belt, according to Department of Transport figures.

The pounds 600,000 TV campaign, which started last night, features the slogan 'where there's a belt, wear it - clunk-click'.

But Mr Key refused to endorse demands for rear seat belts to be made compulsory even in old cars, most of which could be fitted with them. 'We want to concentrate on getting people to wear belts when they are fitted,' he said. 'Last season's campaign had an impact, but clearly not enough.'

The wearing of front seat belts - made compulsory in 1983 despite a strong campaign against it - is almost universally accepted, with 90 to 95 per cent of people strapping themselves in.