IAM RoadSmart says “it’s the most obvious and direct way of saving lives in road crashes”, referencing the fact that in 2017, 27 percent of car deaths involved people who were not wearing a seatbelt.
Last month, the government published a 69-page document detailing 74 proposals for cutting road deaths and improving safety.
The Road Safety Statement 2019 acknowledges that while “the vast majority of drivers on our roads drive safely and stay within the law… there is constant potential for good behaviour to degrade, especially as constraints become familiar and distractions increase”.
The government is considering launching a consultation about imposing penalty points for driving without a seatbelt and not just a £100 fine.
It wants to “work with road safety groups to understand who are the car occupants that are not wearing seatbelt.”
‘A quick win’
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “This is very welcome news. 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 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 benefit 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.”
In 2018, a Freedom of Information request to 44 police forces found that 16 forces recorded more than 8,000 unbelted drivers between them. This suggests there is still work to be done.
‘Simplest way of protecting themselves’
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.”