About 15 percent of vehicle passengers do not wear seat belts, the Korea Transportation Safety Authority said Wednesday.
Despite amendments to the Road Traffic Act in September 2018, mandating that all occupants of a vehicle wear seat belts, the country’s seat belt use rate recorded just 84.8 percent last year, a slight decrease from the previous year, according to the 2020 Traffic Culture Index.
The Korea Transportation Safety Authority said 86.1 percent of passengers in the front seat wore seat belts, while only 37.2 percent of passengers in the back buckled up.
Sejong had the highest rate of seat belt use at 99.1 percent, while North Jeolla Province at 68.0 percent recorded the lowest.
Only 76.5 percent of passengers in commercial vehicles such as trucks and vans wore seat belts on highways last year, a 10 percentage point decrease from 2019.
Over the past three years 1,768 people died in traffic accidents where the use of seat belts could be verified, the safety authority said. But 651 victims, or 36.8 percent of the total, did not have seat belts on.
The agency has launched an online campaign to raise traffic safety awareness and prevent car accidents during the Lunar New Year holiday, when families gather and individuals visit their hometowns. More information about the campaign is available on its official Instagram account.
"Countries with advanced traffic safety like Germany, Sweden and New Zealand have seat belt use rates of over 95 percent,” Korea Transportation Safety Authority President Kwon Yong-bok said. “We ask all citizens to actively take part in saving lives by buckling up in every seat when going on the road in order to spend a safe holiday.”
By Kan Hyeong-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org