Measure is being considered alongside 73 others as part of government safety drive.
More on the government's plans to improve road safety:
- Electric cars will have to make noise to improve pedestrian safety
- Roads policing tactics under review
It’s part of the government’s new road safety action plan, which lays out a wide range of potential changes designed to cut casualties. Under the proposal, the existing £100 on-the-spot-fine for not wearing a seatbelt would be supplemented by penalty points on a driver’s licence, as is the case with speeding.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the proposal is necessary due to the fact that 27 percent of car deaths involved people who were not wearing a seatbelt. Many of these deaths, the government claims, could have been prevented had those in question buckled up.
Other measures laid out in the plan include research into graduated licences for young drivers, the effect of pedestrian mobile phone use among children, and whether alcolocks - devices which measure the alcohol in a driver’s breath and stop a vehicle from starting if that level is too high - can reduce drink-driving re-offending.
“The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but we are not complacent and continue to look at how we can make them safer,” said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. “Today’s action plan is a key milestone in our road safety work and sets out the important steps we are taking to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”
The RAC welcomed the plan, saying it was pleased to see a crackdown on drivers who fail to wear a seatbelt, although the organisation warned that improved enforcement would be needed to feel the full effect of the proposals.
“Of course it is right to crack down on those that do not wear a seatbelt and we welcome tougher penalties which will encourage some to belt up behind the wheel," said the RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes. “But this alone won’t be enough to make the roads safer.
"A number of those who choose not to buckle up are also likely to be those that flout other road traffic laws. This reinforces the importance of enforcement and we fear some drivers will persist without the genuine threat of being caught and prosecuted for not wearing a seatbelt. With far fewer full-time officers on the roads, the prospect of many people being caught for this offence and others is worryingly low.”
Meanwhile David Davies, the executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said the proposed rule change was one of few with “no downside”.
“We are very pleased that the government will consult on penalties for not wearing a seat belt,” he said. “The examples of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where penalty points and enhanced enforcement have been introduced, show how effective this could be in Great Britain. Penalty points would not affect the vast majority of drivers as they already wear seat belts, it would be at minimal cost to government and further research conducted by Direct Line shows that the public back a change in the law. It’s unusual to find a road safety measure with so much benefit and no down sides.”