A number of new measures, including 'alcolocks' and tougher penalties, are being considered by the Department for Transport (DfT) in an effort to reduce the number of people killed and injured on the UK’s roads.
Road users of all ages, from fleet drivers and private motorists, to older drivers, young adults and children, are targeted in the proposed measures.
Under the driver safety action plan, failure to wear a seatbelt could result in penalty points as well as fines, under new plans to reduce the number of deaths on the UK’s roads. This is one of 74 actions being considered to improve road safety.
Paul Loughlin, solicitor and motoring law specialist at Stephensons Solicitors, said: “Driving without a seatbelt remains one of the most common offences committed on Britain’s roads and all too often it can have catastrophic consequences.
"As it stands, drivers and passengers caught without a seat belt could be hit with an on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notice of £100, rising to a fine of £500 if the case goes to court.
"The introduction of points on top of this is a good step forward and a further deterrent, but it must be backed up with education.
“In many new cars and vans, drivers are warned if they haven’t fastened their seatbelt, however in older vehicles, there is no warning system.
"It’s also worth remembering that it’s not just drivers of these vehicles who need to buckle up, it’s also their passengers.
"Everyone over the age of 14 is responsible for themselves in a vehicle, and the driver is responsible for anyone under the age of 14.
"It’s crucial, therefore, that these penalties and the 73 other measures in the Government’s Road Safety Action Plan are communicated effectively and heard by everyone.”
Others measures under consideration include measures include the use of ‘alcolocks’ – devices which measure the alcohol in a driver’s breath and stop a vehicle from starting if that level is too high; and a greater focus on roads policing with a two-year project with the Home Office and National Police Chiefs’ Council.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but we are not complacent and continue to look at how we can make them safer.
“Today’s action plan is a key milestone in our road safety work and sets out the important steps we are taking to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”
The Department for Transport is also considering the report from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) on seatbelt use.
Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis said: “Far too many people are not wearing a seatbelt while traveling in a car, needlessly putting their lives at risk.
“Increasing penalties for people who disregard the simplest of way of protecting themselves is just one of a long list of actions this government is taking to help keep people safe on our roads.”
Every stage of life
According to the DfT, the action plan is designed to improve road safety for people at every stage of life – from birth to old age. This includes:
- The Government is also investigating whether alcolocks – devices which measure the alcohol in a driver’s breath and stop a vehicle from starting if that level is too high – can reduce drink-driving reoffending as part of rehabilitation programmes in the UK. PACTS has been given £50,000 to review drink driving trends and interventions, which will be completed early next year.
- There will also be a greater focus on roads policing with a two-year project with the Home Office and National Police Chiefs’ Council. This will identify best practice and gaps in services to see how policing can be improved.
For older drivers:
- RoadSafe has been given £50,000 to deliver a digital platform to share best practice to reduce road safety risks for older road users.
For young adults:
- The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is developing a behavioural change campaign designed to encourage learner drivers to broaden their experience, by using more rural roads and driving at night before taking their test.
- Research will look further at the benefits of introducing Graduated Driving Licensing on road safety.
- A £225,000 grant has been given to Good Egg Safety to deliver a nationally-accredited safety training programme for retailers to help parents correctly fit baby and child seats. It comes after 70% of parents said they didn’t know how to properly install seats.
- A pledge to help improve children’s safety will see research commissioned into whether mobile phone use among young pedestrians leads to an increased risk of road collisions.
- To help those with special educational needs and cognitive disabilities, the government will fund research into road safety support to help children aged seven to 18 to understand the dangers near roads.
A Rural Road Users Advisory Panel will also be set up to explore ways to increase road safety in rural areas, particularly improving roads and traffic signs, and issues around speed limits and enforcement.