Drivers Who Forgo Seat Belts Could Receive Penalty Points

The Department for Transport is exploring the possibility of introducing tougher penalties for drivers who fail to use their seat belts…

Tougher Seat Belt Enforcement

Drivers could soon face the prospect of receiving penalty points, should they be caught driving without the use of a seat belt. As of now, offenders can receive a fine up to £500 – but not endorsements on their driving licences. Proposed changes could see future penalties work in line with those issued for other driving offences, such as speeding.

Last week, Labour MP Barry Sheerm submitted a question to the then Transport Secretary Katherine Fletcher. It read, “what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing penalty points for people who fail to wear a seat belt”.

Fletcher replied with “the Department for Transport knows that in 2021, in 30 per cent of all car occupant fatalities recorded, seat belts were not worn. This is unacceptably high, and we have been considering options to tackle this including the potential merits of introducing penalty points. This might form part of the Department for Transport’s planned call for evidence on motoring offences”.

It’s not clear whether the new penalties will see the light of day, or when they could be implemented. It’s clear, however, that the Government is aware of the sizable number of drivers who are putting themselves, and others, at needless risk.

‘Saving Lives’ 

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, commented on the proposal. He said, “it’s irrefutable that seatbelts save lives, yet the sad reality is that in 30 per cent of fatal collisions a seatbelt was not being worn. These stark figures underline just how important it is to buckle up in both the front and the rear of the car”.

He stressed, however, that enforcement remains key. He explained, “putting points on the licences of offenders would be a welcome move, but this must be accompanied by better enforcement. While up until this point offenders had to be caught not wearing a seatbelt by a police officer, there is now camera technology on trial in the UK that can make the process far simpler and more effective. If this technology were to be rolled out alongside introducing points on licences lives would undoubtedly be saved.”

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