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Drivers face penalty points if they are caught without a seat belt

Drivers found not wearing a seat belt could face points on their licence as well as fines under new plans from the Department for Transport (DfT).

At present, motorists in England, Scotland and Wales who fail to wear a seatbelt receive a £100 fine, but this can be escalated to £500 if the case goes to court.

Drivers in Northern Ireland already face harsher punishments as they risk being given three points if they are found without a seat belt.

While the DfT has not revealed how many points may be given to drivers for this offence, the topic is of growing concern as 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, BBC figures revealed.

It has been required by law for drivers and front seat passengers to wear a seat belt in the UK since January 1983. Rear seat belts were made compulsory for children in 1989 and adults in 1991.

Road Safety Action Plan

The new penalties in place for drivers shunning seat belts is one of 74 measures included in the government’s latest Road Safety Action Plan.

Under the proposed initiatives, new drivers could be completely banned from travelling at night.

The government is also proposing alcohol sensors to be fitted in cars driven by people convicted of drinking and driving which will immobilise the vehicle if they are found over the legal limit.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

“The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but we are not complacent and continue to look at how we can make them safer.

“Today’s action plan is a key milestone in our road safety work and sets out the important steps we are taking to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said:

“It is barely conceivable that tens of thousands of drivers and passengers make the decision each day not to belt up.

“The direct effect of non-compliance might be felt by the vehicle occupant themselves in the event of a crash, but ultimately the emergency services are left to deal with the roadside consequences and the taxpayer foots the bills.”

It must be noted that there are some exemptions from wearing a seat belt and there is no legal requirement to wear a seat belt if you’re:

  • A driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
  • In a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • A passenger in a trade vehicle and you’re investigating a fault
  • Driving a goods vehicle on deliveries that is travelling no more than 50 metres between stops
  • A licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers

Read more: Road safety action plan announced to cut road deaths