Statistics from the Department of Transport show that of the 232 car occupants killed in 2013 (for which seatbelt data was recorded out of 785 total deaths), 45 were not wearing a seat belt – a shocking 19%, or nearly one-fifth.
In a 30 mph crash, an unrestrained child will collide with something in the car – the seat, the door, the dashboard – with the same force as hitting the ground after falling from a fourth floor window.
As well as wearing a seat belt it’s really important that you use the correct restraints for babies and children travelling in the car with you, such as booster seats. These ensure that the seat belt works correctly and provide the best possible restraint in the event of a collision.
Adult seat belts are often not suitable for children to use as they do not provide adequate restraint and can lead to serious internal injuries as they are not positioned correctly on a child’s body.
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that any passenger under 14 years’ wears a seat belt or suitable child restraint.
Why people don’t wear a seat belt
There are many reasons given as to why people don’t wear a seat belt. Some people:
- Can’t be bothered
- Think it unimportant because they’re only going a short distance
- Find them uncomfortable
- Can’t find the buckle
- Don’t want to crease their clothes.
These are all just excuses. Not wearing a seat belt is against the law and could have fatal consequences.
In a crash at 30 mph, an unrestrained back seat passenger will hit the front seat, and anyone in it, with a force of between 30 and 60 times their own body weight – most likely killing them.
Penalties for not using a seat belt or correct child restraint
If you don’t use a seat belt or the correct restraint on any of your child passengers you will be given a £60 fixed penalty notice. If the case goes to court the maximum fine is £500.
- Passengers over 135cm or aged 12-13
Passengers over 135cm or aged 12-13 must wear an adult seat belt in both the front and the rear, if available.
- Passengers over 14 years’
- Passengers over 14 years’ must wear an adult seat belt in both the front and the rear, if available.
- It is the responsibility of people aged 14 years’ and above to ensure that they wear a seat belt.
- Where buses and coaches are fitted with seat belts, passengers must use them.