Essendon Football Club will take the extraordinary step of replacing its iconic red sash with a seatbelt for the second time in history, to help save lives on Victoria’s roads.
The Bombers will buckle up and don a seatbelt sash guernesey for their blockbuster clash against Collingwood at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, supporting the Transport Accident Commission’s efforts to remind people that seatbelts save lives.
The TAC and Essendon FC campaign comes as the number of people killed on Victorian roads remains tragically high, with 185 lives lost this year, compared with 151 at the same time in 2022.
Alarmingly, 22 drivers and passengers have died this year not wearing seatbelts, despite TAC research showing that around 97 per cent of people buckle up all the time.
TAC Chief Executive Officer Tracey Slatter said the number of people losing their lives without a seatbelt on was unfathomable, 53 years after they became mandatory in Victoria.
“We know that most people do the right thing, but three per cent of people still don’t wear a seatbelt; seatbelts save lives and that is why we are stepping up our efforts to encourage everyone to buckle up,” Ms Slatter said.
“This campaign with the Bombers and the historic seatbelt sash is a significant effort to remind fans to make the safe choice every time they get in a vehicle,” she said.
“We’re heading into an exciting few weeks for AFL fans, so it is a valuable time for us to put road safety front of mind for all those watching on Friday.”
Bombers players will also wear the seatbelt training top during the week, while the campaign will be wide-spread across digital platforms and in live stadium activities and signage on Friday.
Essendon CEO Craig Vozzo said the club was aiming to have great impact in the wider community in raising awareness of the potential life-changing decision to wear a seatbelt.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy watching the football surrounded by their family and friends, however for some, they’ve lost loved ones due to tragedies on our roads,” Vozzo said.
“The simple act of putting our seatbelts on can ultimately save our life. We urge all Essendon and football fans to buckle up every time they are in a vehicle.
“This is a proud partnership for the club and one that we hope will have a significant impact on the Victorian community.”
The campaign follows Victoria’s introduction this year of new mobile phone and seatbelt cameras, which detected 7000 people not wearing a seatbelt in an initial three-month advisory period.
The TAC is also continuing to target seatbelt compliance with an advertising campaign across the state with the tag line, ‘wear a seatbelt, not the consequences’.