One click could save your life (13 Mar 2017)

West Yorkshire Police is supporting a Europe-wide campaign on seat belt enforcement that is running this week. 

Officers from Yorkshire's largest force are using the week-long campaign, which is being led by the TISPOL, to raise awareness about not wearing a seat belt - known as one of the 'fatal four' - the name given to the four most common circumstances leading to death on the roads and also including speeding, using a mobile phone and drink/drug driving. 

The campaign runs from 13-19 March, and seeks to remind the public of the dangers of not wearing a seat belt, whether they are a driver or passenger in a vehicle. 

Seat belts have been compulsory for all passengers in a car since 1991 however West Yorkshire Police issued more than 4,500 tickets to people for seat belt offences in 2016. 

Sergeant James Farrar, of the Safer Roads and Neighbourhood Support Team East, said; "It seems like the most natural thing to most people, when you get in a vehicle to put on your seat belt but there are still people who don't. We see people every day driving around West Yorkshire not wearing a seat belt. In some cases, these people also aren't buckling up their children too which is a huge cause for concern. 

"If you are in a collision you are twice as likely to die if you are not wearing your seat belt. Often people not wearing a seatbelt could be thrown from a vehicle during a collision and receive serious or fatal injuries.  

"Ultimately, you could receive a £500 fine if prosecuted for not wearing your seatbelt. Criminalising people isn't our aim, we want people to understand the danger they are putting themselves and their passengers in by not wearing a seatbelt. These passengers are often your friends and family, can you imagine the consequences if you were involved in an accident? 

"People are often of the opinion, 'It's only a short journey', 'I'm being careful' and 'It'll never happen to me'. The reality is, you can be the most careful driver in the world, but you cannot account for other drivers or circumstances you encounter on your journey. 

"Those aged 17-24 have the lowest rate of wearing a seatbelt and are also most likely to be involved in an crash, but it could happen to anyone, any age on any day. 

"Amazingly, we also see children not wearing seat belts, and last year more than 300 drivers were stopped by officers for offences when children were not wearing one. If you have a child under 14 in your vehicle, and they are not in the correct child seat or not wearing seat belt that is breaking the law. 

"Officers attend the scenes of collisions regularly, and you cannot help but think of the potentially different outcome in situations where a person may have suffered less severe injuries, or no injuries at all if they had been wearing a seat belt. No officer wants to inform a family their loved one is never coming home. 

"We all have our part to play in making our roads safe for everyone. Drivers have a responsibility for themselves and other people travelling in their vehicle and others on the road, they should ask themselves if not wearing a seat belt is really worth the risk. 

"Our advice is clear. When you get in a vehicle, make sure you and any passengers are wearing your seat belt. Quite simply, it could save your life." 

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "Keeping West Yorkshire's roads as safe as possible is a priority for me, the Police and our partners, and is very often raised with me by our communities through various forms of engagement and feedback featuring in my Police and Crime Plan 2016-21 for West Yorkshire.

"Enforcement activity is only part of the solution, awareness raising and education reminders such as this campaign are crucial. At the end of the day there is no reason to attract a fine or to risk your life or anyone else's by not wearing a seat belt which should be second nature when travelling by car. I will be supporting this week of action to help bring these messages home to those who may be ignoring such a fundamental safety measure on our roads." 

Between January 1 and December 31 2016 West Yorkshire Police issued 4835 tickets for seatbelt offences; 

Of those, 66 were in Calderdale, 2823* were in Bradford, 600 were in Leeds, 547 in Kirklees and 595 in Wakefield.  

*2349 Seat belt offences (83%) were actioned by officers working on Operation Steerside in the Bradford District. 

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019