Roads policing officers across Cleveland and Durham are supporting a national week-long seatbelt campaign beginning today.
During the campaign, officers will stop vehicles where drivers or passengers are not wearing their seatbelts from Monday, 13th March, as part of the work carried out by TISPOL, the European traffic police network.
Legislation states that drivers are responsible for ensuring that suitable safety restraints are worn by all passengers under 14 years old. Children must use an appropriate child car restraint for their weight until they are 135cm tall or their 12th birthday, whichever is first.
As seatbelts do not fit children correctly, an appropriate child car restraint is needed to offer the same level of protection as a seatbelt does for adults. Passengers over 14 years are responsible for wearing their own seatbelt and can therefore face prosecution.
A recent amendment to current legislation around child car restraints now means that backless booster seats will only be approved for older children. The new regulations only apply to new models, meaning parents can legally continue to use backless booster seats they already own.
Under the new rules, backless booster seats or booster cushions will only be approved for use by children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg. Currently children as young as three, or 15kg, are able to use a backless booster seat.
Acting Inspector Phil Grieve, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Those who do not wear a seatbelt take an immeasurable risk with their own lives and the lives of others travelling in the vehicle. The important thing to remember is that seatbelts do save lives.
“The aim of this campaign is to keep people as safe on our roads as we possibly can, and by raising awareness of the need for seatbelts and the appropriate child car restraints, we hope to reduce the numbers of people seriously injured, and potentially killed, across Cleveland and Durham.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said: “Reducing injury and death on our roads is one of the key priorities of my Police and Crime Plan and I work closely with the Road Safety Partnership to ensure work is being done in this area.
“I hope people will take note of these new rules, particularly in regards to child booster seats, to make sure they’re taking all possible care to protect themselves and their families on the roads.”
During 2016, 544 people were found to be driving or travelling in a vehicle without wearing a seatbelt across Cleveland and Durham. Of those, males in the 20-35 age bracket were the principal offenders.
29 fixed penalties were issued to drivers in relation to children under 14 being unrestrained.