Seatbelt and Mobile Phone Usage Survey Scotland, 2014

5. Conclusions

5.1 Seatbelt Survey

The 2014 seatbelt survey resulted in 5,720 vehicles and 7,732 vehicle occupants being observed in Scotland, with the majority of vehicles being cars. Analysis found that 97.8% of car drivers were recorded as using a seatbelt, compared to 88.5% of drivers in other vehicles (vans, lorries and buses). The wearing rates were similar for drivers and front seat passengers across all vehicle categories, whilst passengers in the rear seats of cars were slightly more likely to be using a seatbelt than occupants in the front seats (99.0% compared to 98.0%).

The seatbelt wearing rates of drivers was similar in Scotland, England and Great Britain. However, the usage rate by passengers was found to differ, especially amongst rear seat occupants of whom 87.7% were observed using the correct restraint in England. As such, the wearing rate for rear seat passengers in Great Britain was 90.6%.

The results from Scotland show increased wearing rates for all car occupants compared to 2009, but most notably so for rear seat passengers (increasing from 88% in 2009 to 99.0% in 2014).

The 2014 survey found wearing rates had increased such that all male and female car occupants now had similar wearing rates of at least 97% for both drivers and passengers. The most notable increase came amongst rear seat passengers where the wearing rates of men and women increased by 20 and 10 percentage points respectively.

Seatbelt use was found to be generally high amongst car occupants of all ages (above 97%), with the exception of child front seat passengers (94.3%). However, the sample of children in the front seats was small, so some caution should be used when interpreting results for this group.

Wearing rates by car drivers have increased since 2009 for all road and area types, most notably so in urban areas where drivers are now marginally more likely to be found using their seatbelts compared to rural areas in contrast to the previous findings. Seatbelt use is generally high (above 96%) for front seat passengers for all categories of road and area, with a slightly lower wearing rate found on minor roads in urban areas.

The survey found that seatbelt usage rates in cars are high throughout the day (generally above 95% for all occupants), whilst the wearing rate on weekdays and at weekends were similar for car drivers and front seat passengers.

5.1 Mobile Phone Survey

The mobile phone survey resulted in 13,493 drivers being observed in Scotland, the majority of which (82.6%) were in cars. The total included 7,289 drivers at moving sites (54% of total) and 6,204 drivers at stationary sites (46% of total).

The proportion of car drivers observed using a mobile phone whilst driving was 1.3% at moving sites and 1.6% at stationary sites. Car drivers were less likely than those in other vehicles to be using a mobile phone across all sites, particularly at moving sites where 2.9% of drivers of other vehicles were observed using a mobile phone.

Drivers were more likely to be observed with a mobile phone in their hand (indicating texting or internet usage for instance) than at their ear (indicating making a call). This was the case at both moving and stationary sites.

There are no previous figures for mobile phone use in Scotland available for comparison, whilst previous studies in England did not distinguish between different types of use. However, the 2014 figure for car drivers at moving sites in Scotland (1.3%) is slightly lower than the 1.5% observed making hand-held use of a mobile phone in the 2014 survey for England. The usage rate for car drivers at stationary sites in England was substantially higher at 2.7%, resulting in a 2.4% GB usage rate at such sites.

Mobile phone use by van drivers at moving sites was found to be notably higher in Scotland (3.6%) compared to England (2.5%) and Great Britain overall (2.7%). In particular, van drivers were more likely to be observed with a phone in their hand at moving sites in Scotland.

Mobile phone use was found to be similar amongst both men and women, but younger drivers (those aged 17-29) were much more likely to be observed using their phone than older drivers. Moreover, the recorded use by younger drivers was exclusively in-hand usage (suggesting texting or social media use, for instance). Despite being the least likely to be using a mobile phone overall, drivers over 60 were the age group most likely to be observed with a phone at their ear.

Finally, analysis found that mobile phone use fluctuates during the day and that usage rates were higher during the week compared to weekends at both stationary (2.3% compared to 1.5%) and moving sites (1.0% compared to 0.5%).