Almost half of young drivers have been in a car with someone not wearing a seat belt in the past year, according to a leading safety charity.
A poll by road safety body Brake found that 49 per cent of 18-24-year-olds had been in a car with someone who hadn’t belted up – three times more than the figure across all age groups.
The survey was published on the 36th anniversary of seat belt wearing becoming compulsory in the UK.
The latest casualty statistics from the Department for Transport show that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of the 787 car occupants who died in 2017 were not wearing a seatbelt. That compares to 20 per cent the year before.
As well as the safety risks, failing to wear a seatbelt carries an on-the-spot fine of £100, which can rise to £500 if the case goes to court.
More than a quarter of car occupants who died in 2017 weren’t wearing a seat belt. Picture: Shutterstock
Brake’s director of campaigns, Josh Harris, said: “Seat belt wearing became compulsory almost 40 years ago and so it comes as a real shock to hear half of young drivers admit they’ve been in a car with someone not belted up in the past year.
“We know seat belts save lives and yet there are still four people a week who needlessly die on our roads when not belted up.
“Soon we will see seat belt reminders made mandatory on all seats in new cars – a great step forward.
“Unfortunately, we’ve found that young people are most exposed to this issue and they are far less likely to be purchasing new vehicles.
“We need the Government to target safety campaigns at the younger generations to make sure they hear loud and clear that seat belts save lives.
“Ultimately every death on the road is preventable but a death of someone not wearing a seat belt could so easily be avoided.”
Sense of invulnerability
Seat belt warnings will become mandatory in new cars from September. Picture: Shutterstock
RAC road safety spokesperson Pete Williams said the figures should prompt government action.
He said: “Buckling up takes seconds and saves lives, and it is difficult to comprehend why a driver of any age would choose not to do this and put themselves at risk.
“Perhaps young drivers feel they are so cocooned in modern vehicles that boast myriad safety features that they don’t need to worry about the basics like using a seatbelt.
“Younger drivers are disproportionately involved in accidents and these findings should perhaps be a prompt to the Government to try and understand on a deeper level why this is the case and what can be done the reduce collision rates among drivers of this age.”
Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School added: “The figures [are] shocking. The latest research shows that 27 per cent of drivers or passengers who died in 2017 were not wearing seat belts and had they been, the consequences may have been much less severe.”
“We fully support the proposed European legislation due to make seat belt reminder systems mandatory for new cars from September.”