THE importance of wearing a seat belt in a car is being highlighted by road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist ahead of a national police operation starting on Monday June 12, targeting those who fail to belt up.
Oficial figures from the Department for Transport show that almost a quarter of all road fatalities involved vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: "Wearing a seat belt is a legal requirement, but it should also be an automatic and logical choice for everyone travelling in a vehicle because it really can save your life.
"There's no doubt that wearing a seat belt is the single most effective road safety measure for any vehicle occupant, yet too many people choose to break the law by not belting up.
"We urge everyone to stay safe - and stay legal - by always wearing your seat belt, even on the shortest journeys. And ensure everyone in the car with you wears a seat belt.
"Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death by 45 per cent for drivers and front seat occupants, and reduces the risk of serious injury by 50 per cent."2
GEM is keen to ensure infants and children are protected properly on journeys. Children in cars must be carried in an appropriate child restraint from birth until they reach the age of 12 or they grow to a height of 135cm - whichever comes first. After that they must use a seat belt.
GEM's top tips for protecting young children:
1. Take time to ensure that every passenger uses an appropriate seat belt or restraint.
2. Every infant car seat model is different, and not all seats fit all cars, so do choose the best you can for the height and weight of your child.
3. Ensure the seat is installed correctly. Child Accident Prevention Trust figures suggest two thirds of all child seats are fitted incorrectly, with one in 10 being dangerously installed. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and ask for assistance from a suitably-trained technician if you are in any doubt.
4. Use the child locks on the passenger doors to ensure a curious child can't open a door from the inside.
5. Don't allow children to ‘modify' their seat belts by wearing the shoulder strap under the arm, and keep an eye on children to ensure they don't quietly unbelt when they think you can't see.
The national two-week seat belt enforcement operation, coordinated by the National Police Chiefs' Council, runs until Sunday June 25.