New rules could see people not wearing seat belt receive points

Highway Code changes slammed by Steve McNamara

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In the House of Commons, Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, questioned whether there could be “merits” to introducing penalty points for people who fail to wear a seat belt. Katherine Fletcher, who was parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Transport until October 27, provided an answer.

The Conservative MP for South Ribble highlighted that in 2021, seat belts were not worn in 30 percent of all car occupant fatalities recorded.

She added: “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.”

According to Rule 99 of the Highway Code, seat belts must be worn in cars, vans and other goods vehicles if one is fitted.

Adults, and children aged 14 years and over, must use a seat belt or child restraint, where fitted, when seated in minibuses, buses and coaches. 

Exemptions are allowed for the holders of medical exemption certificates and those making deliveries or collections in goods vehicles when travelling less than 50 metres (approx 162 feet).

If someone is caught travelling in a vehicle without wearing a seat belt – and none of the exemptions apply – they could be hit with an on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notice of £100.

The driver is responsible for children aged up to 14 and they could be fined for each child passenger without a belt.

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Those over 14 years old are responsible for their own actions – so if they’re caught not wearing a belt as a passenger, they may also be hit with a £100 fine.

RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams commented on the debate, saying it would be a “welcome move”.

He said: “It’s irrefutable that seat belts save lives, yet the sad reality is that in 30 percent of fatal collisions a seat belt was not being worn. 

“These stark figures underline just how important it is to buckle up in both the front and the rear of the car. Putting points on the licences of offenders would be a welcome move, but this must be accompanied by better enforcement. 

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“While up until this point offenders had to be caught not wearing a seat belt by a police officer, there is now camera technology on trial in the UK that can make the process far simpler and more effective. 

“If this technology were to be rolled out alongside introducing points on licences lives would undoubtedly be saved.”

Currently, not wearing a seat belt isn’t an endorsable offence, meaning drivers will not receive any penalty points.

Because of this, it won’t affect their insurance at renewal time, as they do not need to inform the insurance company.

In some extreme cases where the case goes to court, the fine could increase to £500.

It’s been a legal requirement in the UK for seat belt anchorage points to be fitted in the front of all new cars since 1965, and for front seat belts to be fitted to all cars since 1967.

By 1987, all new cars sold in the UK legally had to have rear seat belts fitted too – but most manufacturers were already fitting them as standard.

Rule 100 also outlines that the driver must ensure that all children under 14 years of age in vehicles wear seat belts or sit in an approved child restraint where required.

If a child is under 1.35 metres (approx four feet and five inches) tall, a baby seat, child seat, booster seat or booster cushion must be used suitable for the child’s weight and fitted to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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