Call for penalty points for drivers who don’t wear seatbelts

Call for penalty points for drivers who don’t wear seatbelts
Call for penalty points for drivers who don’t wear seatbelts

A road safety organisation has called on the UK Government and the Scottish Government to increase the penalty for drivers caught not wearing a seatbelt while driving.

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, in line with those for mobile phone offences, which were increased earlier this year to a fine of £200 with six penalty points.

Inconsistent approach

There are already variations across the UK, with drivers in Northern Ireland facing a £500 fine and three penalty points for seatbelt offences.

In England and Wales you could face a £500 fine for not wearing a seatbelt when you are supposed to – but the offence does not carry penalty points.

Police Scotland said that the penalty for driving without a seatbelt in Scotland is £100. However, a Scottish Government spokesman advised that the maximum penalties available to the courts in Scotland are the same as those in England and Wales.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government advised that the matter is reserved for Westminster, saying: “As this is a reserved matter, we would expect any change to the legislation to be done on a GB-wide basis.”

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth told Johnston Press: “We’d like to see the rest of the UK bought into line with Northern Ireland with the introduction of three points for not wearing a seatbelt.”

‘Time for a clear message’

“The Government was made aware nearly a decade ago that seatbelt rates among drivers killed in crashes were just 65 per cent, compared with 94 per cent 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,” continued Neil.

“Seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45 per cent for drivers and front seat occupants. They also reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 per cent.

“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 we would see a significant and immediate reduction in the number of drivers and vehicle occupants killed and seriously injured on our roads.”

The Department for Transport today highlighted a 2014 observational study which recorded seatbelt use and found that 98.2 per cent of drivers were wearing seatbelts.

A spokesperson said: “The UK has some of the safest roads in the world and we are always looking at ways of making them safer. We have no plans to change the penalties for not wearing a seatbelt but we keep this under continual review.”

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