Drivers who don’t wear seat belts could face penalty points

Department for Transport looking at increasing the level of punishment for not wearing a seat belt in bid to reduce fatalities

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Drivers who don’t wear a seat belt could face penalty points under new plans being considered by the Department for Transport (DfT).

On 27 October, Labour MP Barry Sheerman submitted a written question to the then Secretary of State for Transport asking “what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing penalty points for people who fail to wear a seat belt”.

Katherine Fletcher, who at the time was a DfT minister, responded: “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.”

Presently, not wearing a seatbelt can lead to a fine of up to £500, but penalty points are not issued for the offence. A law change would see failure to wear a seatbelt brought into line with offences such as speeding, for which drivers can lose their licence if they offend repeatedly.

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams commented: “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.

“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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