Drivers who are caught not wearing a seat belt are to face being given points on their licence, under new plans to increase penalties for motoring offences.
Motorists in England, Scotland and Wales currently face an on-the-spot fine of £100 if they fail to buckle up while behind the wheel, but the offence will see drivers be landed with penalty points as well.
Fines can increase up to £500 if the case goes to court.
Drivers can lose their licence if they build up 12 or more points within three years, so the harsher punishment could help to reduce repeat offenders.
The law is different in Northern Ireland, where drivers already risk being given three points if they are caught without a seat belt, and face a fine of up to £500.
The Department for Transport has not yet announced how many points will be given for the offence.
More than a quarter (27 per cent) of the 787 car occupants who died in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2017 were not wearing a seat belt, according to DfT figures. This was compared with 20 per cent during the previous year.
New safety measures
The plans to introduce points for failing to wear a seat belt is one of 74 measures included in the government’s Road Safety Action Plan.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the action plan is a “key milestone” in the government’s road safety work and sets out the steps being taken to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the UK’s roads.
The action plan states, “The vast majority of drivers on our roads drive safely and within the law, but some do not, and there is constant potential for good behaviour to degrade, especially as constraints become familiar and distractions increase.”
With the number of car occupant fatalities from not wearing a seat belt rising over the past few years, the government hope the introduction of penalty points on driving licences will help to lower the number.
The report adds the government is also considering the report from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety to help understand which kind of drivers and passengers are least likely to wear seat belts, what prompts their behaviour and which interventions would be best to reduce the number of casualties.
Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis said, “Far too many people are not wearing a seat belt while traveling in a car, needlessly putting their lives at risk.
“Increasing penalties for people who disregard the simplest way of protecting themsleves is just one of a long list of actions this government is taking to help keep people safe on our roads.”
The government is also considering fitting alcohol sensors to cars driven by motorists who have been convicted of drinking and driving, which will immobilise the vehicle if they are over the legal limit.