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Lives lost not wearing belts.

Byline: EXAMINER Motors Correspondent

MORE than one third of car occupants killed in collisions are not wearing seat belts, according to a new report.

The AA Seat Belt Report shows seat belts more than halve the risk of death in a collision.

Nearly 300 lives per year would be saved if all car occupants belted up.

However, the 7% not wearing seat belts are overrepresented in fatalities. It suggests that the sort of driver who chooses not to wear a belt is twice as likely to be involved in a crash as someone who does belt up.

The report says nearly 300 lives per year would be saved if all car occupants belted up.

The AA Seat Belt Report suggests that targeting these non- belt-wearing "crash magnets" could have beneficial effects. The report also points to evidence from Lord Stevens, the ex-Metropolitan Police Commissioner, that Princess Diana would have survived the Paris car crash had she been wearing a seat belt.

The report shows lower seat belt wearing rates amongst:. Men (especially young men). Rear seat passengers. Company car drivers. Drivers of vans, lorries, buses, coaches and minibuses. Only 69% of them regularly wear seat-belts.

These groups are less likely to wear belts late at night or early in the morning.

It appears that 14% of the population are "intermittent" belt users. They tend to give excuses such as: "It depended on who I'm with only going down the road, yet on a longer journey I will always wear one."

"It digs in my neck, not very flattering, you're forever pulling it."

"If I'm in the front I feel there's something totally missing, I don't feel secure, whereas in the back it's totally different."

AA President Edmund King, said: "It is astonishing that one third of vehicle occupants killed do not wear seat belts.

"In the current safety debate with concerns over road safety funding there is one thing that could be done overnight to save 300 lives per year at no cost - that is every vehicle occupant to belt up on every journey.

"It is tragic that 40 years after Jimmy Savile's iconic campaign that so many drivers still don't 'clunk click every trip'.

"There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from Princess Diana's tragic death in Paris in terms of driving too fast, drink/drug driving and the added risks of not wearing a seat belt."

The AA Seat Belt Report recommends:. Government should consider increasing the penalty for drivers not wearing seat belts to include penalty points.

. Police should be encouraged to carry out more spot-checks particularly on back seat passengers.

. More police forces should offer seat belt education courses in lieu of fines.

. Drivers should insist that all their passengers belt up.

. Employers should be stricter with professional drivers who don't belt up.

. Government, local authorities and emergency services should continue seat belt campaigns.

. Lessons should be learnt from the tragic Princess Diana car crash.

. Variable messages should tell drivers that in one third of deaths the occupant was not wearing a seat belt.

. Driving instructors should reinforce the 'Clunk Click every trip' message at every driving lesson.

. Television soap operas should publicise the importance of seat belts in storylines.. Reporters, officials and presenters on television should always belt up.

The full AA Seat Belt Report is available at the AA website at www.theaa.com Seatbelt timeline THERE was a long battle to get the introduction of laws for compulsory wearing of seat belts:. 1970s - saw the Jimmy Savile 'Clunk Click' campaign which helped increase seat belt wearing rates from 30% to 40%.

. 1973 - saw the first of 12 failed attempts to introduce legislation. Arguments about personal liberty won the day.

. 1983 - Regulations for compulsory wearing of front belts came in for a three-year trial (deaths fell by 300 per year).. 1991 - Adults required to use rear seat belts.

. 2009 - on June 29 the penalty for not wearing a seat belt rose from pounds 30 to pounds 60.

. 2009 - Thames Valley Police in conjunction with AA Drive Tech offered safety courses to offenders not wearing belts. 66% accepted courses rather than fines.

CAPTION(S):

BELT CHECK: Make sure passengers in the back are safe
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Oct 15, 2010
Words:701
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