Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the Government to increase the penalty for drivers and passengers who do not wear a seatbelt on journeys.
The organisation wants the Government to bring seatbelt offences in line with those for mobile phone offences, which were increased earlier this year to a fine of £200 with six penalty points.
Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM, said: “The Government was made aware nearly a decade ago that seatbelt rates among drivers killed in crashes were just 65%, compared with 94% for the wider driving population.
"Now that road death numbers in the UK are at their highest for five years, it’s time ministers sent a clear message that the Government is serious about reducing casualties.
“Seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45% for drivers and front seat occupants. They also reduce the risk of serious injury by 50%.
“Research shows time and again that seatbelt laws increase seatbelt use, and therefore reduce deaths and serious injuries*.
“We have seen mobile phone penalties for drivers rise in recent years, and if seatbelt offences were dealt with in a similar way, we believe would see a significant and immediate reduction in the number of drivers and vehicle occupants killed and seriously injured on our roads.”
Any driver failing to wear a seatbelt in Northern Ireland faces a fine and three penalty points, as do drivers who fail to ensure a child in a front or rear seat is not wearing a seatbelt.
* Source: Road Safety Observatory