Up to half of people who die in car collisions in parts of Britain are not wearing seatbelts as growing numbers of motorists flout the law, shock figures have revealed.
The proportion of road crash deaths where victims did not buckle up has jumped by a quarter in just two years, according to figures obtained under freedom of information (FOI) laws by PACTS, a charity that advises Parliament on transport safety, and insurers Direct Line.
It blames the decline in road safety policing which has seen the number of penalty notices for seatbelt offences fall by 70 per cent from 172,000 to 51,500 in six years and the absence of education campaigns such as the iconic "Clunk Click Every Trip" slogan of the 1970s.
The charity – set up in 1981 as seat belts became compulsory – is demanding the Government introduce a three point penalty on offenders' driving licences as a deterrent to breaking the law.
At present, motorists who do not buckle up only get a £100 fine – and can reduce that to £50 by doing an online safety course. That contrasts with six points for using a mobile phone, three points for speeding and up to six months jail and a ban for drink driving.
"Not wearing a seat doesn't cause a crash but it is probably the most important factor in whether you live or die," said David Davies, PACTS executive director.
There were 739 road deaths where a seatbelt was not worn between 2016 and 2018, according to the analysis of crash scene examinations obtained through FOI from police forces.
But the number killed could have been halved if they had been wearing a seatbelt, official data suggests. Most are young people under 35.
The highest number of deaths was in 2018 with nearly a third (31 per cent) of those who died in road collisions unbelted, up from 25 per cent in 2016.
Worst was Cleveland with 60 per cent, though there were only five fatalities, followed by 57 per cent in North Wales (20 deaths), 52 per cent in Derbyshire (27 deaths), 47 per cent in Surrey (15 deaths) and 41 per cent in West Yorkshire, (43 deaths).
By contrast, Northern Ireland which introduced penalty points in 2007 has seen the proportion wearing belts rise from 75 per cent to 95 per cent, the highest in the world, with the lowest death rate of 25 per cent among the home nations.
Mr Davies said: "The absence of penalty points for not wearing a seat belt is a real omission. It is compounded by cutbacks in roads policing. You see that by the dramatic reduction in the number of fixed penalty notices. At the same time there has been a cutback in road safety education."
The Department for Transport has promised a consultation on increasing penalty points but has yet to put forward proposals even though the move is also supported by police chiefs.
Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Roads Policing, told The Telegraph: "Consideration should be given as to whether the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt should be brought in line with other fatal road offences such as speeding, drink or drug driving, or using a mobile phone at the wheel.
"Twice as many people die on UK roads than through homicide each year. Most of these deaths are preventable."
Almost three quarters of the public (72 per cent) back the introduction of penalty points for those caught not wearing a seat belt, according to an Optimum poll of 2004 people.
- Police mull automatic fine collection for cars
- Blood and benefits: Duterte imposes his formula on the Philippines
- Vendors of unsafe helmets put lives at risk
- Social Highlights for November 14
- EVENTS SCHEDULED FOR MAY 10-20 (daily updated)
- Social News 2/7
- Meeting ex-maid abroad
- 9/11 mastermind delivers anti-US diatribe at Guantanamo
- Think twice before posting kids’ images online
- SOCIETY IN BRIEF 13/4
Motorists should face penalty points for not wearing seatbelts as true scale of crash deaths is revealed have 626 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at March 12, 2020. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.