For many people around the world, it’s an automatic reaction to buckle up whenever you get into a vehicle. However there are still many countries where, despite having the laws in place, there isn’t much of an awareness of the tragic consequences failing to strap yourself in can have…that’s where Taylor Swift comes in.

In the UK, my home country, road safety organizations such as THINK! have drummed into us the importance of wearing a seat belt. In my childhood, I remember having a VHS tape with one of my favourite movies on it that had been recorded off the telly. I forget which movie it was, but what I will never forget is the particularly gory and depressing advert for seat belt safety that would crop up during the breaks. Those images burnt themselves onto my impressionable young mind, resulting in some terrifying nightmares, and the rather more positive effect of my never once failing to wear my seat belt.

However, there are still many countries where this is not a matter of common sense as it simply has not been ingrained in the national psyche.

Check out the study below which shows that in nearly all of the ASEAN countries surveyed, more than half of people only use their seat belt when they’re in the front seats. This may make sense for Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam where seat belt laws only apply to people in the front seats, but it’s surprising that the proportions are generally the same for Malaysia and the Philippines which both have national seat belt laws that apply to all occupants of a vehicle. While laws might be the first step, they won’t go much further if people aren’t aware of them, or of the consequences of not complying.

▼ Vehicle Safety Study in ASEAN (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam) on Seat Belt Usage


Of course these statistics are formed from people’s personal answers, but the hard data also shows that traffic safety is a real issue in these areas. According to SEARO, the South-East Asia Regional Office for the World Health Organization, “Road traffic crashes accounted for 334,815 deaths in the South-East Asia Region during 2010, with the rate of 18.5 per 100,000 population.” All the laws in the world won’t do much good if they aren’t upheld, and SEARO admits that “overall enforcement of seat belt law is poor in the Region.”  

The Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis in Japan claims that air bags are 15 times more effective in conjunction with a buckled seat belt, and with such a simple way of decreasing the chance of people dying a horrible death when they’re thrown head first through the windshield, it’s important to try and educate people.

▼ Fatality Rate in Traffic Accidents in which SRS Airbags were Deployed

seat belt survey

In order to try and reduce the number of needless fatalities, and boost its corporate responsibility record in the process, Toyota is launching a road safety campaign in South East Asian countries aimed at increasing the use of seat belts amongst all vehicle passengers. Of course any self-respecting campaign needs a celebrity spokesperson, and Toyota have managed to hook fresh-faced darling-of-the-moment Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift’s RED tour will be making its way around South East Asia this June, and with her legion of young fans what better way to get the message out than to broadcast a short and sweet video at the start of all her shows.

▼She really cares about traffic safety, guys.

And finally, we have the campaign’s official video, which looks like some kind of candy advert from the 90’s, complete with awkward jingle. It’s certainly not the same as the shock tactics used in the UK, and I can’t say that this sunny little clip would have left any lasting impression on me as a youngster. Then again, if this kind of promotion does work then maybe it can spare some kids from gruesome nightmares, as well as sparing many, many lives.

▼ Buckle up! Buckle up! Buckle up! …Shut up!

Source: TOYOTA Global Newsroom, Be Safety Leaders, Global Health Observatory Data Repository, SEARO
Images: TOYOTA Global Newsroom