WITH a European-wide seatbelt enforcement campaign taking place this week, West Mercia Police are urging all motorists and their passengers to stay safe and use their seatbelt every time they travel in a vehicle.
The campaign is running from today (Monday) until Sunday to encourage motorists to belt up, through a combination of campaign and enforcement activity.
Not wearing a seatbelt can be a fatal decision, even on short, familiar journeys and at low speed.
While the majority of people habitually belt up every time they get into a car, many people – especially those travelling in the back of vehicles – admit that they sometimes don’t for short journeys.
Nationally, drivers and passengers aged 17-34 have the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates combined with the highest collision rate.
Over the past two years in West Mercia 12 people have been killed and 25 seriously injured in collisions where a seatbelt has not been worn.
In the UK it is a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt, unless they have an exemption.
It is also vital to ensure children are correctly restrained, and car seats are correctly fitted.
Children must use an appropriate child restraint until they are either 12 years old or 135cm in height, at which point they must use the car’s seatbelts.
It is the driver’s legal responsibility to ensure that any passenger under 14 years old is using the appropriate child restraint or an adult seatbelt.
Passengers 14 years old or over are legally responsible for wearing a seatbelt. Research shows that people of 14 and older sitting in the rear seats were only found to be wearing a seat belt on 70% of occasions.
Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans for West Mercia Police said: “Sadly, I have seen the aftermath of far too many collisions where people have been killed as a result of not wearing a seatbelt and where serious injuries could’ve been avoided.
“Although the vast majority of people do wear their seatbelt, there are still some who either choose not to or simply forget.
“Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law and face an on-the-spot fine of £100.
“If prosecuted, the maximum fine can be up to £500. It takes just a couple of seconds to put your seatbelt on and many vehicles now have Seatbelt Reminder devices, so there really isn’t any excuse.
“Making sure children are restrained in correctly fitted car seats is just as vital.
“Enforcing the law around seat belts and child car seats is a year round commitment for West Mercia Police and enforcement activity will be on going throughout this campaign week to ensure the message is getting through.”
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s group commander Mick Cadman added: “Seatbelts are common practice for most people but we want to encourage people that even for short journeys you should ‘belt up’ and make sure that everyone in your car has a seatbelt on.
“Our Firefighters attend a large number of road traffic collisions each year and wearing a seatbelt can massively reduce the resulting injuries to passengers and could mean the difference between life and death.
“No matter what speed or how short the journey is, always wear a seatbelt.”