New rules could see drivers hit with penalty points for not wearing a seatbelt

New rules could see drivers hit with penalty points for not wearing a seatbelt

Drivers could be hit with penalty points if they don’t wear their seatbelt under new proposals being considered by government.

Officials at the Department for Transport are understood to be discussing the new measure after it emerged 30% of all fatalities on British roads last year involved people who had not buckled up.

It is the the highest proportion since records began.

Currently, offenders face a £100 penalty rising to £500 in the courts for not wearing a seatbelt, though many will be instead be offered an alternative online seatbelt awareness course which costs £53.

Speaking last week before a cabinet reshuffle, then-transport under-secretary Katherine Fletcher said the new statistics had moved the Department for Transport to consider bringing in an additional penalty.

She said: “The Department for Transport knows that in 2021, in 30pc 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.”

It became a legal requirement to wear a seat belt in the front of a vehicle in 1983, and they eventually became mandatory in rear seats eight years later.

But last year, the parliamentary advisory council for transport safety (Pacts) said the existing fine no longer acts as a deterrent.

The group, which was set up by MPs and was involved in the seatbelt campaign four decades ago, claims modern passengers are more likely to ignore the rules – especially those travelling in taxis.

David Davies, executive director, said: “Seatbelts are a great success story but the job is not yet done. The £100 fine does not emphasise to drivers the seriousness of the risk.”

The DfT’s road casualty report for 2021 revealed that the number of fatalities per billion miles driven had risen compared with the years immediately before the pandemic.