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Tougher enforcement on seatbelts and mobile phones needed, says IAM

The fear of being caught for breaking the law on seatbelts or mobile phones must increase to stop hundreds of thousands of drivers putting themselves and other road users at risk.

Camera vans are being used to prosecute drivers not wearing a seatbelt or using their mobile phone while driving

IAM RoadSmart says camera vans must be used consistently to enforce seatbelt and mobile phone laws

So says IAM RoadSmart as latest Department for Transport research shows some drivers are still not getting the message.

The analysis shows that in 2017 1.1% of all vehicle drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone while driving on weekdays in Great Britain, of which 0.4% were observed holding the phone to their ear, with twice as many (0.8%) spotted holding the phone in their hand.

The worst offenders were taxi/private hire drivers (3.3%), followed by van drivers (2.1%), then car drivers (1%).

The research also looked at seatbelt wearing rates, which remain high with 96.5% of all vehicle drivers observed using a seatbelt on weekdays in 2017. However, that means 3.5% of all vehicle drivers are choosing not to wear a seatbelt.

Seatbelt used varied with 93.1% of front seat passengers and 90.7% of rear seat passengers buckling up in Great Britain. For car drivers, 98.6% were observed using a seatbelt in Great Britain in 2017.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “In spite of these being small percentages, this still amounts to hundreds of thousands of people who daily flout the law and put themselves and others at risk.

“The best way of tackling this ever-present issue is to make people believe there is a high chance of being caught. This could start tomorrow if consistent guidelines on using mobile speed camera vans to enforce seatbelt and mobile phones laws were issued.

“Currently there is no standard approach on using this high-profile resource across the UK. Making non-wearing of seatbelts an endorsable offence is also a quick win. Not only would it persuade more people to take the offence seriously, but it might tempt them to take a seatbelt awareness course. People avoid using seatbelts for a wide range of individual reasons and these views need to be challenged face-to-face.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.