Motorists who fail to wear a seatbelt should be given penalty points on their driving licenses, a new report has recommended.
Direct Line and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) are calling for Great Britain to adopt the same rules as Northern Ireland, where drivers who don’t wear a seatbelt are handed three penalty points.
The organisations are also calling for greater enforcement of seatbelt law and an increase to the public perception of said enforcement.
According to the report, the issue is a serious one, as more than a quarter (27%) of people who died in cars on the roads during 2017 were not wearing their seatbelts. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 of those injured in cars in the same year were also guilty of failing to belt up.
And the two organisations say their recommendations have public support, after a study of more than 2,000 adults found that 72% backed a change in the law. Of those calling for the introduction of penalty points, 58% said three points would be an appropriate punishment, but 30% said the punishment should be six points. And 20% said flouting seatbelt laws should result in an automatic driving ban of at least three months.
David Davies, the executive director of PACTS, said: “It has been a shock to find that more than one in four people killed in a car were not wearing a seatbelt. In the event of a collision, wearing a seatbelt is the single most effective thing that a driver or passenger can do to avoid serious injury.
“Our report shows the road safety community has taken its eye off the ball. It points to ways to increase wearing among the minority who forget or choose not to do so. In particular, PACTS recommends making it an endorsable offence, with three penalty points. This would have no impact on most drivers or passengers but could substantially reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured each year.”
Gus Park, the managing director of motor insurance at Direct Line, echoed Davies’ sentiments, saying this aspect of road safety had been “overlooked”.
“Thirty-six years ago mandatory seatbelt wearing was introduced and has proved to be one of the most effective road safety measures in the history of motoring,” he said. “It may not prevent collisions, but it can and does prevent death and serious injury.
“This report shines a spotlight on an area that seems to have been recently overlooked. It makes specific and practical recommendations with three key areas of focus: better enforcement, better education and better data collection with the intention of increasing seatbelt wearing and ultimately reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”