ROAD safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the Government to increase the penalty for drivers and passengers who do not wear a seatbelt on road journeys.
It follows the commitment made in the road safety action plan launched in July 2019 when the Government said it would make seatbelt offences endorsable, meaning people caught not wearing a seatbelt would face penalty points on their licence as well as a fine.
The offence has long been endorsable in Northern Ireland, where drivers who fail to ensure a child in a front or rear seat is not wearing a seatbelt also face points on their licence.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: "Official figures show that despite compliance rates of 98.6 per cent among car drivers, 27 per cent of those killed in cars were not wearing a seat belt - amounting to more than 200 deaths.
"Seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45 per cent for drivers and front seat occupants. They also reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 per cent.
"Research shows time and again that seatbelt laws increase seatbelt use, and therefore reduce deaths and serious injuries*.
"We have seen mobile phone penalties for drivers rise in recent years, and if seatbelt offences were dealt with in a similar way, we believe would see a significant and immediate reduction in the number of drivers and vehicle occupants killed and seriously injured on our roads."
GEM supports the forthcoming national seatbelt operation organised by the national Police Chiefs' Council, which starts on May 24.