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WATCH: Drivers encouraged to belt up

WATCH: Drivers encouraged to belt up

Published at 9:53am 14th March 2017.

Police in North and West Yorkshire are supporting a European seatbelt and child car seat safety campaign.

Through a mixture of local engagement and enforcement, officers will be out and about across the region supporting the week of activity and offering advice.

Seatbelts have been mandatory for nearly 35 years, but officers regularly see drivers on the roads who haven't belted up.

Figures show that you're twice as likely to die in a crash if you don't wear a seatbelt.

Drivers and passengers aged 17 to 34 have the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates, combined with the highest accident rate, and it seems that people are less likely to use seatbelts on short or familiar journeys, which puts them at serious risk of injury in a crash.

If you don't wear a seatbelt when you're supposed to, you can be fined up to £500.

As part of the campaign, police will also be patrolling in and around schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

Officers will speak to parents about car seat safety and new legislation which recently came into force.

Under current UK law, all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat until they're 12 years old or 135cm tall.

Under the new rules, backless booster seats will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg.

The ruling applies to new car seat purchases - existing models of seats or cushions aren't affected.

However, parents and carers are encouraged to ensure that their child's car seat is fitted correctly at all times.

Recent reports have found that two out of every three car seats aren't properly fitted.

Traffic Sergeant John Lumbard, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "It is essential that all occupants carried in vehicles are appropriately restrained, particularly children, as a driver can never predict when and where a collision may occur. Seatbelts and child restraints are a vital safety feature in reducing the risk of injuries occurring to the occupants of a vehicle involved in a collision.

"Drivers should ask themselves a very simple question: 'How would I feel if my child was badly hurt because I didn't ensure they were safely secured in a child restraint?'

"Help and guidance is readily available either online or at retailers of child restraints and booster cushions, to assist parents in ensuring children are safe to travel."

Here's how the THINK! campaign has highlighted the seatbelt safety message over the last few decades:

 

In West Yorkshire, police issued over 4,500 tickets for seatbelt offences in 2016.

Sergeant James Farrar, of the Safer Roads and Neighbourhood Support Team East, said: "It seems like the most natural thing to most people, when you get in a vehicle to put on your seatbelt, but there are still people who don't. We see people every day driving around West Yorkshire not wearing a seatbelt. In some cases, these people also aren't buckling up their children too, which is a huge cause for concern.

"People are often of the opinion, 'It's only a short journey', 'I'm being careful' and 'It'll never happen to me'. The reality is, you can be the most careful driver in the world, but you cannot account for other drivers or circumstances you encounter on your journey.

"Those aged 17 to 24 have the lowest rate of wearing a seatbelt and are also most likely to be involved in a crash, but it could happen to anyone, any age, on any day.

"Amazingly, we also see children not wearing seatbelts, and last year over 300 drivers were stopped by officers for offences where children were not wearing one. If you have a child under 14 in your vehicle, and they are not in the correct child seat or not wearing seatbelt, that is breaking the law.

"Officers attend the scenes of collisions regularly, and you cannot help but think of the potentially different outcome in situations where a person may have suffered less severe injuries, or no injuries at all, if they had been wearing a seatbelt. No officer wants to inform a family their loved one is never coming home.

"We all have our part to play in making our roads safe for everyone. Drivers have a responsibility for themselves and other people travelling in their vehicle and others on the road, they should ask themselves if not wearing a seatbelt is really worth the risk.

"Our advice is clear. When you get in a vehicle, make sure you and any passengers are wearing your seatbelt. Quite simply, it could save your life."

More information about seatbelt and child car seat safety at www.roadwise.co.uk