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Partnership urges motorists and passengers to 'belt up' - 9 March 2015

With a European-wide seatbelt enforcement campaign taking place this week, the Safer Roads Partnership in Warwickshire and West Mercia is urging all motorists and their passengers to stay safe and use their seatbelt every time they travel in a vehicle.

The Safer Roads Partnership, Warwickshire Police, West Mercia Police and the Central Motorway Police Group are taking part in the campaign from 9th - 15th March to encourage motorists to belt up, through a combination of awareness-raising 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.

National research estimates that one in three people who are killed in vehicles are not wearing seatbelts, and half of them could have been saved had they worn them. Research also suggests that wearing a seatbelt can reduce the fatality rate in a collision by 50% in the front and 25% in the back.

In the UK, drivers and passengers in cars must wear a seatbelt, unless they have a medical exemption certificate. It is also vital to ensure children are correctly restrained, and car seats and booster cushions 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.

Anna Higgins, Communications Manager at the Safer Roads Partnership, said "Although the vast majority of people do wear their seatbelt, there are still some who either choose not to or simply forget. Nationally and locally, there are collisions occurring where people haven't worn their seatbelt and the injuries sustained could have been avoided if seatbelts were used.

"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, so there really isn't any excuse not to use it and it could save your life if you're involved in a collision. Making sure children are restrained in correctly fitted car seats or booster cushions is just as vital."

Sergeant Tim Ivers from the Operational Policing Unit at Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police said "Enforcing the law on seatbelt use will be the primary focus for this campaign and our officers are fully committed to supporting this issue throughout all areas of Warwickshire and West Mercia. Seatbelts are an effective means of reducing serious injuries and fatalities and anything we can do to increase their use has got to be a positive step."

Inspector Greg Jennings from Central Motorway Police Group said "Reducing death and serious injury on the roads remains a priority for the police service. It is terribly sad that 1 in 3 people killed in vehicles are not wearing a seatbelt that could have saved half of them. This week we are redoubling our efforts to make an impact on those people who put themselves and unforgivably their children at risk by not taking the simple precaution that could save their life or prevent serious injury."

For more information on seatbelts and child car seats, please visit the following websites:

http://think.direct.gov.uk/seat-belts.html

http://www.childcarseats.org.uk

http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com/ukincar/