A new report by Direct Line and The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) calls for the introduction of three penalty points for not wearing a seat belt.

In Northern Ireland failing to wear a seat belt carries three penalty points, unlike England, Scotland and Wales. Direct Line research reveals that 72 percent of the British public support the introduction of penalty points for those found not to be wearing a seatbelt when driving. Of those calling for the introduction of penalty points, 58 percent of the public believe three points would be an appropriate punishment while 30 percent believe the penalty for breaking the law should be six points, the same as for using a handheld mobile phone when driving. 

The current penalty for a driver issued a Fixed Penalty Notice for not wearing a seat belt is £100, with a maximum penalty of £500 if taken to court.

Although the vast majority of drivers and passengers wear a seat belt, the failure of a minority to consistently wear a seat belt is associated with a disproportionately high number of serious injuries and deaths with over 1,200 casualties in 2017. Of those who died in cars on the roads in 2017, 27 percent were not wearing a seat belt.

“It has been a shock to find that more than one in four people killed in a car were not wearing a seat belt,” said David Davies, Executive Director, PACTS. “In the event of a collision, wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing that a driver or passenger can do to avoid serious injury.

“Our report shows the road safety community has taken its eye off the ball. It points to ways to increase wearing among the minority who forget or choose not to do so. In particular, PACTS recommends making it an endorsable offence, with three penalty points. This would have no impact on most drivers or passengers but could substantially reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured each year.”

Download the full report