Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) are reminding drivers of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt, as they support the TISPOL enforcement week that runs from the 11th to the 17th of September.
TISPOL, the European Traffic Police Network, run regular enforcement weeks throughout the year, and these serve as awareness to the public who may be flouting the law or unaware of why the regulations are in place.
Recently, the Central Ticketing and Summons Unit (CTSU), based at Shoreham Police Station, have prosecuted Gary Coates, of Mountfield (East Sussex), after he was caught on camera on the A271 near Battle, not wearing his seatbelt in September 2016. Whilst Mr Coates could have taken the online educational course (which would have cost him £36), or the fine (which would have cost him £100), he instead maintained his innocence all the way to court.
The court, who held the case on the 21st of July this year at Hastings Magistrates, heard the defence from Mr Coates, who claimed he had been performing a three-point turn just prior to being filmed by the mobile camera unit. However, the representative from the camera team stated that Mr Coates should have stopped to put his seatbelt on before setting off again, and if he was unable to do so, there was a layby that could have been used instead. The video evidence clearly showed Mr Coates driving without wearing his seatbelt: he was found guilty by the court, received a £120 seatbelt fine, and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge, along with £700 in costs.
The court took the partnership’s stance that this is a very serious matter. Although wearing a seatbelt has been the law since 1983 in the UK, and it is estimated that 95% of us do so, there are still approximately 2 million road users who choose not to wear them. To educate drivers about the benefits of wearing a seatbelt, at our stand this year at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, we introduced the crowd to the Tumbling Car. This fantastic invention, from VSV in Belgium, is a car sat on a rig, and passengers are invited to sit in it, buckle up, and experience what it would be like to be in a vehicle that tumbles over in a collision. The car completes a full 360 degree loop, but your seatbelt keeps you firmly in place.
Sergeant Badman, from SSRP, explains further the use of seatbelts: “Whilst you can injure yourself badly in a collision because you’re not strapped in, people often forget that they are also a danger to their fellow passengers. If you aren’t wearing your belt, and the car is involved in a collision, you can effectively turn into an internal lethal weapon to everyone inside. If you’re in a crash at 30mph, you could ricochet around the car at 30-60 times your body weight, which isn’t very respectful of everyone else’s safety.”
TISPOL are running an awareness day on the 21st of September this year, entitled European Day Without A Road Day (EDWARD). Sign the pledge here and commit to be a better driver.