In 1976. The state of Victoria in Australia enacted a law on 22 December 1970, compelling the wearing of seat belts. Andreassend, employed by the Road Safety and Traffic Authority, used a latin square and estimated that deaths to drivers and front seat passengers declined by about 12.5% after introduction of the legislation.
Later crtitics noted that the decrease in road fatalities in Victoria was only a leading indicator of a general trend. In the year following the decrease noted in Victoria the rest of Australia reported a similar decrease in road fatalities. (Fig. 7.3, 7.4 Adams) Evans (1991, p275), a strong proponent of seat belt wearing, wrote of Andreassend:
"estimates now seem to have been clearly too high."
In the seven year period from 1970 it was noted worldwide that the fatality rate dropped fastest in those countries where seat belts were worn least. (Adams, fig 7.1). Australia, with compulsory seat belt wearing in all states had the lowest decrease in fatalities in 17 countries which together contained over 80% of the world's car population.(Adams p116).
However Andreassend's figures persuaded many other governments to enact seat belt legislation. In the early eighties the British Transport & Road research Laboratory wrote:
"for direct evidence of death, however, it is necessary to rely on recent Australian data"
This paper has lost all credibility. Many authorities speculate
that the reduced fatalities worldwide in this decade were caused by some
design factor, such as the introduction of collapsible steering column
or other inbuilt safety features.
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