Seatbelts and smartphones undermining road safety

New data from the Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed that 24% of all car occupant fatalities in Britain between 2016 and 2020 involved people not wearing their seatbelt.

DfT’s survey showed that drivers between the age of 17 and 29, were the most likely (32%) to not wear a seatbelt during a fatal crash.

The RAC said: “Astonishingly, almost a quarter of all road traffic fatalities involved occupants not wearing seatbelts. This stark statistic singularly underlines just why seatbelts are a legal requirement, so it’s a real worry that many people still choose not to belt up. The fact compliance is much lower for those in the backs of cars – who are less likely to be protected by airbags – and for those who ride in taxis is equally shocking.

“As seatbelts are probably the single biggest life-saving device ever introduced into vehicles, it’s vital the Government, local authorities and the police continue to reinforce this message. Today’s new figures beg the question as to whether a nationwide communications campaign to promote seatbelt use should be rolled out and whether existing laws are a sufficient enough deterrent.”

Drivers currently receive a find of up to £500 for not wearing a seatbelt.

The report also revealed a worrying increase in the number of drivers using their mobile devices behind the wheel.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “It’s concerning there has been an increase in the proportion of drivers observed using handheld mobile phones at the wheel since 2017. Historically, when the Government stiffens penalties, there is a drop in illegal phone use before old habits begin to creep back in again.

“While many drivers would like to see the penalties increased further, we believe the Government should be rolling out new camera enforcement technology similar as is already used several other countries such as Australia and the Netherlands.

“We believe this technology would be an important tool for reducing the number of unnecessary lives tragically lost on our roads each year because of this dangerous and illegal habit.”