Calls for law changes to crack down on drivers not wearing seat belts

Drivers choosing not to wear seatbelts

Following the findings of a report on drivers choosing not to wear seatbelts, the government is being urged to toughen the law to force people to be sensible.

Not wearing a seatbelt dramatically increases your risk of dying in a crash. The most recent study found that seatbelts reduce fatal and non-fatal injuries by 60 per cent among front seat occupants and 44 per cent among back seat passengers. In 2017, 212 people who died in a crash in the UK – just over a quarter of the total – weren't wearing a seatbelt.

Now the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, a panel of MPs which has produced a report into the issue with insurers Direct Line, wants the government to increase the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt from a £100 fine (or a retraining course) to three points on your licence.

Panel chairman Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, said: “I thought this was one road safety issue that we had cracked. Evidently not.”

Seatbelt laws have been around for decades. Wearing seatbelts in the front of a car became compulsory in 1983. Then, from 1989, children in the back were required to wear seatbelts, and in 1999 this was extended to all passengers.

Figures from 2017 show that the vast majority of drivers, front seat passengers and children in the rear seats wear seatbelts. A lower percentage of just 79 per cent of adults in back seats wear seatbelts.

Why don’t people wear seatbelts?

The top reason people gave for not wearing seatbelts, given by four out of ten people, was that they were only making a short journey. A surprising 14 per cent said that they found them uncomfortable, and eight per cent said they felt they shouldn’t have to wear one. Further reasons given included the fact the drivers were driving carefully and not wanting to crease clothes.

When don’t you have to wear a seatbelt?

There are times when it’s legally acceptable to not wear a seatbelt. You can take it off if you’re reversing and need to see better, or are a passenger supervising a learner who is reversing. Police officers and firefighters in emergency vehicles can take theirs off.

Delivery drivers travelling 50 metres or less between stops don’t have to put their seatbelt back on each time. Taxi drivers can also take theirs off – this stems from the notion that the belt could make them more vulnerable to assault or robbery.

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