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Seatbelt safety

Wearing a seatbelt saves thousands of lives across the UK every year. 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. 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.

For your safety and the safety of others, the law dictates that you MUST wear a seatbelt, if one is fitted, unless you have a medical exemption certificate. It is essential to wear it, even if your intended journey is only a short one as a collision can occur at any time.

Wearing a seatbelt in the back of the car is also a legal requirement and is just as important as wearing one in the front. In a crash at 30mph, if you are unrestrained in the back seat, you will hit the front seat (and anyone in it) with a force of between 30 and 60 times your own body weight. If you have passengers in the back of your car, it is essential that you ask them to take just a few seconds to 'belt-up' as it could save your own life, as well as theirs.

The driver has full responsibility for ensuring that any passengers aged under 14 are wearing either their seatbelt or the correct restraint.

Adult passengers (aged 14 and upwards) are responsible for their own safety and should always ensure that they have secured their seatbelt before the driver sets off.

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.

For more information, visit the Think! Seatbelt Safety website http://think.direct.gov.uk/seat-belts.html