Government figures have revealed that in 2017, the proportion of car occupants who were killed while not wearing a seat belt reached the highest level on record.
The Department for Transport (DfT) released its annual road casualty report on Thursday, revealing that over a quarter of people who died in road crashes in 2017 were not wearing seat belts.
A total of 1,793 people were killed on Britain’s roads last year, 1 more person than in 2016. The overall number of people killed in cars fell by around 4%, while the number of motorcyclist fatalities increased by 9% and pedestrian fatalities increased by 5%.
A DfT spokesperson said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we are always looking at ways of making them safer. The number of deaths where people were not wearing a seat belt is shocking. Up to one in four deaths in a car could have been prevented by simply plugging in before moving.”
Failure to wear a seat belt has a minimum penalty of £100, but can rise to as much as £500 is a case goes to court.
Director of road safety charity Brake, Joshua Harris, said the figures highlight a “shocking lack of progress on road safety improvement in Britain”
“Progress on British road safety has stagnated and yet the Government sits on its hands and rejects the introduction of policies which are proven to save lives. For the individuals, families and whole communities devastated by road crashes, this is simply not good enough.
“We urge the introduction of a more robust driver licensing system, saving young lives and ensuring fitness to drive across all ages; a zero-tolerance limit for drink- and drug-driving, ridding our roads of dangerous and impaired driving; and safer speed limits in our communities and on our rural roads.”
This has been supported by the RAC, with road safety spokesperson Pete Williams adding that the figures “serve as a stark reminder of how much work there is still to do to improve safety of the UK’s roads.”
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