Drivers should get penalty points for not wearing seat belt, survey suggests

Handing penalty points to drivers caught not wearing a seat belt would be supported by more than seven out of 10 people, a survey suggests.

A poll of 2,004 UK adults indicated that 72% would back a law change meaning motorists could lose their licence for not being strapped in.

Three points on a licence would be an appropriate punishment, according to 58% of respondents, while 30% believe six points – the same punishment for using a mobile behind the wheel – is suitable.

Just one in seven (15%) think the current system of no points should continue.

Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman said he welcomed the research by insurance firm Direct Line, adding that the Government is “actively looking at whether to introduce penalty points”.

In Britain, the fixed penalty for failing to wear a seat belt is £100 and offenders face a fine of up to £500 if a case goes to court.

Prince Philip was spoken to by police in January after being photographed driving without a seat belt.

Introducing three points for not wearing a seat belt – which is already the case in Northern Ireland – could see some offenders losing their licence.

This is because motorists can be disqualified from driving if they build up 12 or more points within three years.

A survey commissioned by road safety charity Brake earlier this year indicated that nearly half (49%) of young drivers had been in a car with someone not wearing a seat belt in the previous 12 months.

More than a quarter (27%) of the 787 car occupants who died in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2017 were not wearing a seat belt, according to latest Department for Transport data.

This was compared with 20% during the previous year.

Direct Line and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) called for a punishment of three penalty points to be introduced in Britain, greater enforcement of the seat belt law through intelligence-led measures and increased public perception of offenders being caught.

Pacts executive director David Davies said it was “a shock” to discover the number of people killed while not wearing a seat belt, and accepted that the road safety community has “taken its eye off the ball”.

Making the offence punishable with three penalty points would have “no impact” on most drivers but would “substantially reduce” the number of people killed or seriously injured each year, he added.

Gus Park, managing director of motor insurance at Direct Line, described the introduction of mandatory seat belt wearing 36 years ago as “one of the most effective road safety measures in the history of motoring”.

He went on: “It may not prevent collisions, but it can and does prevent death and serious injury.”

AA president Edmund King said: “It is surprising that drivers haven’t learnt lessons from the most high-profile and tragic car crash case of all-time, where Princess Diana, Dodi Fayad and driver Henri Paul all died without wearing seat belts.

“Bigger fines and penalty points for not wearing seat belts should be introduced as soon as possible to persuade drivers of the importance of belting up.”

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