Fleet News

Penalty points call for non-seatbelt wearers

seatbelt buckle

Twenty-five years after it became compulsory to wear seatbelts, a third of car occupants receiving fatal injuries in a road crash are still being found to have not been wearing seatbelts.

In addition, van drivers have been found to be the worst offenders for not wearing seatbelts.

Only 69% of van drivers put on their seatbelts before driving away and just 58% of their passengers belt up.

The means some 370 people a year are being killed in road crashes because they have not bothered to clunk click, says the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).

Also, according to Department for Transport (DfT) research, while nine out of 10 people agree it is dangerous to travel in the back of a car without a seatbelt, only seven in 10 adults actually wear belts when sitting in the back.

Now ROSPA is calling for drivers and passengers who fail to wear their belts to receive three penalty points.

At present, those convicted in court of a seatbelt offence face a maximum fine of £500. If a Fixed Penalty Notice is offered and accepted, then the fine is £30. However, failing to wear a seatbelt is not currently a penalty point offence.

"It is shocking that a stubborn minority of people still do not belt up when they get into a vehicle,” said Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at ROSPA.

"It may be that some people simply forget to wear their belts and need to be encouraged to get into the habit. Others may not feel they are necessary or that it is not 'cool' to wear one. Perhaps it is time to consider giving drivers three penalty points when they fail to wear their belts."

The DfT said it was not yet considering making the non wearing of a seatbelt a penalty point offence, although the road safety minister, Jim Fitzpatrick said: "Government campaigns have helped increase the numbers of people wearing seatbelts to more than 90% for drivers and front seat passengers but too many back seat passengers are still not belting up.”

The minister also confirmed that his department is undertaking yet more research into the use of and attitudes towards seatbelts and will use the findings to create new a seatbelt campaign, which it will launch towards the end of 2008.

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