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UK Seatbelt Law Review – 2019

A new survey carried out by and insurance provider has suggested that more than seven out of ten respondents would be happy for penalty points to be given to drivers failing to wear a seat belt. The recent poll surveyed around 2,000 adults throughout the UK to determine their views on whether such penalties would be acceptable.

Female driver buckling seatbeltUltimately, drivers could lose their licence in cases of multiple offences should the UK government change the law and add penalty points for those caught driving without a seat belt. Currently anyone who reaches twelve or more penalty points in a rolling three year period can be disqualified from driving.

Approximately 58% of those who responded said that a three point penalty would be the right punishment, whist three in ten believed the penalty should be the same for motorists caught using a mobile device while driving (six points).

The current punishment for motorists failing to wear their seat belt is a fine of £100, which can rise to £500 in the event of court proceedings. Just 15% of survey respondents thought that failure to wear a seat belt should result in a fine but no penalty points, which is the current situation.

Interestingly, the situation in Northern Ireland differs from that in mainland Britain. Under laws there, motorists already face the award of penalty points for non-wearing of their seat belts, so any change in the law would bring the rest of the country into line.

The survey comes hot on the heels of a similar study organised by Brake, the road safety charity, which made some disturbing findings. 49% of people surveyed said they had travelled in a vehicle with someone not wearing a seat belt at some point in the previous year.

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In 2017, almost 800 people died because of road accidents, with a worrying 27% found to not be wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, a 7% rise on the 2016 figures. Seat belts have been compulsory for motorists driving new and used cars since 1983, making such figures all the more worrying.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) have also called for the introduction of penalty points for anyone not wearing seat belts, as well as better education of motorists and the general public.

It’s suggested that while the effect of introducing penalty points might not have much of an impact on drivers, it should reduce the number of individuals not wearing a seat belt and therefore lower death or serious injury rates.

There’s a duty of care for all areas of the motor industry, from motor trade insurance providers to dealerships to reinforce the message that seat belt wearing is not only a legal requirement but could have life-saving consequences.