With an estimated 2 million drivers in the UK still not wearing a seatbelt when they’re driving, Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) are reminding road users of the dangers of not belting up in their cars.
Along with colleagues at Surrey and Sussex Police’s Roads Policing Unit (RPU), and Surrey’s DriveSMART, SSRP want to reach the last 5% of drivers who do not see the benefits of seatbelts. There is a week dedicated to this, running from the 12th – 18th of March, which has been implemented by TISPOL, the European Traffic Policing Network.
Although this week is still very much business as usual, and enforcing this law is a daily occurrence for RPU, it does give an opportunity to raise awareness to a demographic of ignorant drivers.
The standard three-point seatbelt that we know today was first introduced in Sweden in 1959. The design by Volvo innovatively spread the energy of an impact over more parts of the body to lessen the severity. It was never patented, and was subsequently offered to other manufacturers for free, so more lives could be saved. Since 1959, laws surrounding seatbelt use have been introduced into more and more countries, and it is estimated that 95% of UK drivers wear theirs – but there is still work to be done.
Under the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seatbelts) Regulation 1993, it is required that all passengers in a car wear a belt, with only a handful of exceptions. If there are passengers under 14, it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are wearing one. The offence is non-endorsable, as not all passengers necessarily have driving licences, but you can still get fined up to £500 if you commit an offence.
As well as RPU catching offenders during patrols (431 to be exact in Sussex in 2017), the Sussex safety camera team are also able to capture offences as part of their day-to-day work. They caught 653 last year, on top of their work for speeding and mobile phone offences, including one driver who received a £120 seatbelt fine, ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge, and £700 in costs after maintaining his innocence all the way to court.
Chief Inspector Warren Frankiln explained the reasons behind the enforcement week: “National statistics suggest that drivers and passengers aged 17 – 34 have the lowest compliance rates, combined with the highest collision rates, and you are twice as likely to die in a collision if you are not wearing your belt. Whatever your motivation to wear one – either to save you money from a fine, or to save your life – we are urging drivers to strap in this week, and every week. You may think it’s just a short journey home, but it could be a long recovery if you are injured in a collision through not wearing a belt.”
There have also been changes recently to the child car seat regulations. If these affect you, make sure you know the law: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules.
We need all vehicle occupants to strap in to save lives. An unbelted passenger could become an in-car missile in a collision, ricocheting around the vehicle at 30-60 times their body weight in a 30mph crash, so do not drive off until everyone is wearing their belt.