Safety Advisory Group says Government must act on rising seat belt deaths

Safety Advisory Group says Government must act on rising seat belt deaths

The Independent Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is asking the UK Government to act on the growing number of people dying in car accidents as a result of not wearing a seat belt.

The seat belt is probably the single most effective road safety measure of all, and it has been compulsory to wear them for the last 40 years.

In a briefing released last month, PACTS research has shown that:

  • 30% of people who died in cars in 2021 were not wearing a seat belt. This is the highest percentage since modern records started. This amounts to over 200 deaths and many more serious injuries.
  • Wearing a seat belt halves the chance of dying in a collision. It remains one of the most effective ways to protect occupants of cars during collisions, even in modern cars with airbags.
  • Those aged 17-34 are the least likely to wear a seat belt, but the most likely to crash.
  • Failing to wear a seat belt incurs no penalty points, unlike the other Four Fatal Safety offences of speeding, mobile phone use, drink and drug driving. The current penalty for not wearing a seat belt, if issued a Fixed Penalty Notice, is £100, with a maximum penalty of £500 if taken to court, unchanged since 2012.
  • Of the 682 people who died in collisions in cars in Great Britain in 2021, an estimated 30% were not wearing a seat belt.
  • 95% of front seat occupants and 92% of rear seat occupants wear seat belts.
  • Research also shows a marked increase in seat belt wearing for those vehicles fitted with automatic seat belt reminders.

PACTS has been attempting to draw attention to this blind spot in government road safety policy. The 2021 data suggests that the issue is getting worse.

They have recommended a few actions, including increased penalties, more use of cameras, increased roads policing, better driver education and more effective seat belt reminders.

While technology has advanced, enforcement and penalties have lagged behind.

David Davies, the Executive Director at PACTS, stated: “Over 200 people died in cars last year when not wearing a seat belt. A seat belt halves the probability of death in a crash – but only if it is worn. In national Road Safety Week, PACTS is calling on the government to act to increase seat belt wearing rates and reduce unnecessary death and injury.

“Seat belt wearing has been a legal requirement for 40 years and one of the most important safety measures. It is ridiculous that the government has dithered for so long over introducing penalty points. There is a new generation of cameras that detect seat belt offences. Penalty points are urgently needed to back them up.“

Seat belts not only save lives, but can prevent injuries and reduce the risk of:

  • Whiplash
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones/fractures

Relying on airbags on their own to protect you may not be enough. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill you if you are not wearing a seat belt.

It also keeps passenger stay in place when inertia is inevitable. When being thrown out of a vehicle or out of a vehicle with such strong force, its almost impossible to avoid a severe injury.

All passengers should wear seat belts, even if you are sitting in the back seat.

To wear your seat belt correctly, you should make sure the seat belt is not twisted, with the lap belt as low as possible so it doesn’t ride up over your stomach.

The shoulder belt should lie across your chest, over your shoulder and away from your neck.

Safety Advisory Group says Government must act on rising seat belt deaths

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