HUNDREDS of Huddersfield motorists are still risking their lives by failing to belt up.
Figures released by Kirklees Road Policing Unit reveal 1,191 fines were issued for not wearing seat belts last year – a rise of more than 17% on 2009.
The offence was the most common reason for police to pull over motorists last year despite seat belts becoming mandatory almost 30 years ago.
Offending for the second most common offence, driving while using a mobile phone, saw 726 motorists issued with tickets.
Police dished out fines to 1,023 adults with a further 168 motorists penalised for driving with children who were not wearing their seat belts.
The combined figure means more than three motorists a day were stopped for the offence in Kirklees last year.
The sharp rise is still considerably lower than the 2007 figure of 1,452 offences.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, a key player in the introduction of seat belt law in 1983, said most people belted up automatically but he was aware that some areas of society were ignoring the law.
He said: “I’m very disturbed about the lack of compliance in some sections of the community.
“We know young people don’t belt up even though they’re the most vulnerable ones.
“I’m particularly worried when I go to schools and I see mothers pulling up and neither they nor their children are wearing seat belts.
“That’s terribly, terribly dangerous. I would like to see all the schools in Kirklees start a campaign with parents to educate them how serious it is for the safety of our children.
“There’s also evidence that people from immigrant communities are more likely not to wear seat belts.
“There are a lot of people arriving here less familiar with the laws of our country and I’m glad the police are doing something about it.”
Sgt Paul Denton, from Kirklees South Road Policing Unit, said traffic police would continue to enforce seat belt law.
He said: “Even though it’s been law to wear seat belts for a number of years people still continuously disregard them and by doing so put themselves and others at risk.
“We will continue to crack down on that type of behaviour at every opportunity we get.
“It’s not only their own lives they are risking but it has implications and costs for other services such as the NHS.”
Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for Huddersfield-based road safety charity Brake, said: “Wearing a seat belt and ensuring that children have an appropriate child restraint is one of the most basic measures people can take to keep themselves and their family safe on the roads.
“It doesn’t take two seconds to put on a seat belt, but you could lose the rest of your life if you don’t.
“Worryingly, these figures show that there is a significant proportion of drivers and passengers in Kirklees who are needlessly risking the lives of themselves or even their children by not belting up”.
THERE was a long battle to get the introduction of laws for compulsory wearing of seat belts:
1959: Volvo introduces 3-point belt in front as standard, in Sweden.
1962: The January issue of Which? strongly advocated belt wearing, revealing that a “first survey” of their effectiveness in Britain showed they would reduce the likelihood of death and serious injury by 60%.
1967: New cars in the UK must be fitted with front seat belts by law.
1970s: “Clunk Click” TV commercials, starring Jimmy Savile, pictured, show the dangers of being thrown through the windscreen in a collision. “Clunk, click every trip” is still one of his most remembered phrases. Seat belt wearing rates increased from 30% to 40%.
1973: The first of 12 failed attempts to introduce legislation. Arguments about personal liberty won the day.
1981: A bill for the mandatory wearing of seatbelts is passed on the eve of Charles and Diana’s wedding. It becomes law from January 31, 1983.
1987: Rear seat belts required to be fitted to new cars.
1989: Wearing rear seat belts becomes compulsory for children under 14.
1991: It becomes compulsory for adults to belt up in the back.
2001: Seat belts required for minibuses and coaches.
2009: On June 29 the penalty for not wearing a seat belt rose from £30 to £60.