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Many company drivers still not belting up, new report finds

News Seat Belt

Many company vehicle drivers are still failing to belt up when behind the wheel, according to a new report. The AA’s Clunk Click report, which was published today (October 11) found that more than one third of car occupants killed in collisions are not wearing seat belts. It found that only 69% of company vehicle drivers – those driving vans, lorries, busses, coaches and minibuses - regularly wear seat-belts.

It did not state how many company car drivers fail to wear their seatbelts, but did say there is a lower seat belt wearing rate amongst company car drivers. “These groups [including company car drivers] are less likely to wear belts late at night or early in the morning,” said the report. “It appears that 14% of the population are ‘intermittent’ belt users.”

The report shows that seatbelts more than halve the risk of death in a collision. However, the 7% not wearing seatbelts are overrepresented in fatalities, which suggests that the sort of driver who chooses not to wear a belt is twice as likely to be involved in a crash as someone who does belt up.

Nearly 300 lives per year would be saved if all car occupants belted up.

The AA report suggests that targeting these non belt wearing "crash magnets" could have beneficial effects beyond the issue of seat belts. The report also points to evidence from Lord Stevens, the ex Metropolitan Police Commissioner, that Princess Diana would have survived the Paris car crash had she been wearing a seat belt.

Edmund King, AA President, said: “It is astonishing that one third of vehicle occupants killed do not wear seatbelts. In the current safety debate with concerns over road safety funding there is one thing that could be done overnight to save 300 lives per year at no cost – that is every vehicle occupant to belt up on every journey.”

The AA Seat Belt Report is available on line and can be found at www.theaa.com/public_affairs/reports/aa-seat-belt-report.pdf

The AA is now recommending:

  • Government should consider increasing the penalty for drivers not wearing seat belts to include penalty points.
  • Police should be encouraged to carry out more spot-checks particularly on back seat passengers.
  • More police forces should offer seat belt education courses in lieu of fines.
  • Drivers should insist that all their passengers belt up.
  • Employers should be stricter with professional drivers who don’t belt up.
  • Government, local authorities, emergency services should continue seat belt campaigns.
  • Lessons should be learnt from the tragic Diana car crash.
  • Variable messages should tell drivers that in one third of deaths the occupant was not wearing a seat belt.
  • Driving instructors should reinforce the “Clunk Click every trip” message at every driving lesson.
  • Television soap operas should publicise the importance of seat belts in story lines.
  • Reporters, officials and presenters on television should always belt up.