Almost 60% of Ukrainian drivers still do not wear seat belts behind the wheel, but there is significant progress – survey results

October 24, 2023

On average, 40% of Ukrainian drivers use seat belts, while the rest ignore this means of protection. But there is good news: in recent years there has been more than 1.5-fold increase in the level of seat belt use. Such conclusions can be drawn from the study “The level of seat belt use among drivers in Ukrainian cities”. It was conducted jointly by the non-governmental organizations Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM) and Vision Zero within the ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign. 

The survey organizers studied what proportion of car drivers in Ukraine actually use seat belts, complying with the requirements of the Traffic Rules, and to what extent this indicator has changed compared to 2020, when the previous study was conducted. A total of 30,260 drivers were checked in 18 cities: Kyiv and 17 regional centers where the security and safety situation allowed.

For these cities, the average seat belt use rate is 40.14%. This is a significant positive change (+14.1%) compared to 2020, when an average of 26.04% of drivers were wearing seat belts.

The change is even more pronounced at the level of specific cities. In 2020, the researchers found no cities where the majority of drivers used seat belts. Now there are as many as 4 such cities: Kyiv, Lviv, Zhytomyr and Rivne (with the level of belt use roughly doubling in the latter two). 

In general, in 14 cities, the percentage of drivers wearing seat belts has increased; in another two, the changes did not exceed a statistical error. Only in Odesa and Mykolaiv did the level of belt use decrease.

See the full text of the study with more detailed information about each city here

‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign calls such trends positive, but adds that despite this, the majority of drivers in Ukrainian cities still do not fasten their seat belts. 

This way people expose themselves to daily danger, because according to the World Health Organization, ignoring seat belts is one of the key risk factors in an accident. At the same time, wearing a seat belt doubles driver’s or passenger’s chances of surviving a potentially fatal crash (and also saves from serious injury in milder cases).

“International studies indisputably show that a seat belt is the most effective way to save life and health in the event of a crash, which is why legislation requires its mandatory use. It is for this reason that seat belts have been one of the main focus factors of the For Safe RoadsCampaign since 2016. We are pleased that over these years Ukraine has managed to make significant progress, which is confirmed by the study,” commented Olesia Kholopik, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law.

Oleksii Biloshytskyi, First Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Patrol Police Department, called the dynamics positive, but added that the goal has not yet been reached. In his opinion, belt use should become a permanent habit for the motorists.

“I unconsciously want to wear a seat belt, and when I’m not wearing it, I feel uncomfortable, as if I lack something. I would like everyone to develop such a principle, and I think that by joint efforts we will reach the consciousness of our citizens. After all, we realize that here results can be achieved not only through fines and prosecution, but also by changing consciousness. However, we should have both penalties and monitoring in place both on the part of police and the efforts of the expert community and the public interested in positive changes,” he summarized.

The ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign believes it necessary not to stop there. “Despite the positive trends, more than half of drivers in Ukrainian cities (59.86%) continue to fail to comply with the requirement of the Traffic Rules on mandatory use of seat belts. Ukraine should strive to reach the level of 100%. To achieve this goal, we must work further both civil society and public authorities,” commented Viktor Zahreba, coordinator of the ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign and chairman of the board of Vision Zero NGO.

Therefore, CEDEM notes, every motorist should make their own contribution to road safety: buckle up themselves and convince others by debunking popular myths about seat belts (for their refutation, see the link).

The participants of the press conference reminded that the current traffic rules oblige all drivers and passengers in both front and rear seats to wear seat belts. And the administrative liability for the violation of the seat belt use today is UAH 510.

‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign is an advocacy campaign aimed at reducing mortality and injuries on Ukraine’s roads. Іt was initiated in 2016 by the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law in partnership with NGO Vision Zero, U-Cycle and brings together international, Ukrainian experts, representatives of the legislative branch and the executive branch.

About the study: 

The study was conducted by observation method, in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization “Seat-belts and child restraints: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners(2009).

The average sample of drivers in each studied city was 1,681 people, and the total sample was 30,260 people. In each city, measurements were carried out in 4-6 locations across the city. Results were rounded to the first decimal place. The static error of measurements in cities is no more than 5% with a confidence interval of 95%. According to the methodology, the study included drivers of cars, trucks, and vans and excluded drivers of urban, suburban and intercity public transport, special purpose and emergency vehicles and military vehicles.

Observers used a visual method of obtaining information, choosing the most convenient locations for observation to minimize the possibility of errors or failure to detect the presence or absence of a seat belt on the driver’s shoulder. Observers completed special count forms and took photographs at the observation site. The observation was conducted in such a way that drivers were unaware that they were being observed. The results of observations from each city were verified by the organizers, and their selective verification was carried out by the method of control measurements.

The national average was calculated as the arithmetic mean of the number of indicators in the studied cities. The study results do not take into account differences in the number of people in the cities studied, the level of seat belt use in other cities, towns and on highways outside the cities. 

Important: due to military actions, or proximity of military actions, or high intensity of shelling and high concentration of Ukrainian Defense Forces, the organizers did not conduct the study in Kharkiv, Severodonetsk, Mariupol, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, as well as in cities in Luhansk Region and Crimea in 2023. The lack of observations in these cities prompts caution in interpreting the identified average indicator, as this indicator may change if data is obtained from these cities.