Penalty points for seatbelt offences ‘long overdue’, says GEM
The Government is being urged to honour a commitment in its most recent road safety action plan to introduce tougher seatbelt laws.
The call comes from road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist, which says such a move would have a dramatic effect on road safety.
In the road safety plans published in July 2019, the Government said it would explore issuing penalty points for those not wearing seatbelts in cars – as well as the current fine – as it would be the most obvious and direct way of saving lives in road crashes.
The offence has long been endorsable in Northern Ireland, where drivers who fail to ensure a child in a front or rear seat is not wearing a seatbelt also face points on their licence. However, these tougher sanctions do not apply in England, Scotland or Wales.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth commented: “Official figures show that despite compliance rates of 98.6% among car drivers, 27% of those killed in cars were not wearing a seat belt – amounting to more than 200 deaths.
“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.”
GEM has also lent its support to a forthcoming national seatbelt operation that will crack down on drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. Organised by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the two-week campaign starts on 24 May and will ensure motorists are using their seatbelts and child restraints correctly and take action on offenders breaking the law.