Copyright (c) 2011 Robert Gray
There cannot be many people out there - drivers or otherwise - who do not understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt when driving or when travelling in a vehicle. It is an obvious safety measure, yet many people still continue to get behind the wheel - or travel as a passenger - without securing their seatbelt. This puts their own lives and the lives of others in danger. The purpose of this article is to look at the reason seatbelt usage is so important, the legal requirements, the risk of not wearing a seatbelt and the penalties if you are caught.
Since 1973, all cars being manufactured have been fitted with seatbelts. They are designed to save lives and play a vital role in doing so. Legally, as far as adults are concerned, seatbelts must be worn in the front of a car and if they are fitted in the back (it is rare that they are not), they must, again, be worn. Adult passengers are responsible for their own use of a seatbelt and it is the driver of the vehicle that is responsible for his or her own seatbelt use and that of any children travelling in the vehicle. Special rules apply to children with regard to the type of car seat or seat restraint they should be placed in. Generally, children up to the age of 12 years (or 135cm - whichever they reach first) should be fitted with an age/height appropriate car seat. After that time they are required to wear an adult seat belt.
The consequences of not wearing a seatbelt can be fatal, either for the person not wearing a seatbelt, or (if this person is seated in the rear of the car) for the person behind whom they are travelling in the car, or for both. In the event of a collision, even if the person/people not wearing a seatbelt escape death the chances are that the injuries they sustain will be significantly worse than if they had been wearing a seatbelt.
If you are caught not wearing a seatbelt you will face a fine. This will usually be a fine of £30 but could be anything up to £500. The offence of not wearing a seatbelt is not, currently, endorseable with penalty points.
In summary, the risks of not wearing a seatbelt can be catastrophic and it is essential that the driver of any vehicle takes measures to ensure that they do not begin any journey until all of their passengers have their seatbelts fastened, or, in the case of a children, are secured into an age and weight appropriate car seat.