Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) is reminding road users of the dangers of not belting up in their cars. This comes following data showing an estimated two million drivers in the UK still not wearing a seatbelt when they’re driving.
Along with colleagues at Surrey and Sussex Police’s Roads Policing Unit (RPU) and Surrey’s DriveSMART, SSRP want to reach the last 5% of drivers who do not see the benefits of seatbelts. There is a week dedicated to this, running from March 12-18, which has been implemented by TISPOL, the European Traffic Policing Network.
Although this week is still very much business as usual and enforcing this law is a daily occurrence for RPU, it does give an opportunity to raise awareness to a demographic of ignorant drivers.
The standard three-point seatbelt that we know today was first introduced in Sweden in 1959. The design by Volvo innovatively spread the energy of an impact over more parts of the body to lessen the severity. It was never patented and was subsequently offered to other manufacturers for free, so more lives could be saved. Since 1959, laws surrounding seatbelt use have been introduced into more and more countries and it is estimated that 95% of UK drivers wear theirs – but there is still work to be done.
“drivers and passengers aged 17–34 have the lowest compliance rates”
Under the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seatbelts) Regulation 1993, it is required that all passengers in a car wear a belt, with only a handful of exceptions. If there are passengers under 14, it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are wearing one. The offence is non-endorsable, as not all passengers necessarily have driving licences, but you can still get fined up to £500 if you commit an offence.
As well as RPU catching offenders during patrols (431 in Sussex in 2017), the Sussex safety camera team is also able to capture offences as part of their day-to-day work. They caught 653 last year, on top of their work for speeding and mobile phone offences, including one driver who received a £120 seatbelt fine, ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £700 in costs after maintaining his innocence all the way to court.
Chief Inspector Warren Franklin explained the reasons behind the enforcement week:
“National statistics suggest that drivers and passengers aged 17–34 have the lowest compliance rates, combined with the highest collision rates and you are twice as likely to die in a collision if you are not wearing your belt. Whatever your motivation to wear one – either to save you money from a fine, or to save your life – we are urging drivers to strap in this week and every week. You may think it’s just a short journey home, but it could be a long recovery if you are injured in a collision through not wearing a belt.
“All vehicle occupants must strap in to save lives. An unbelted passenger could become an in-car missile in a collision, ricocheting around the vehicle at 30-60 times their body weight in a 30mph crash, so do not drive off until everyone is wearing their belt.”
For more information on the law when it comes to wearing a seatbelt, click here.
There have also been changes recently to the child car seat regulations. If these affect you, make sure you know the law.
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Get ready for 2 years of traffic problems as M23 improvements start
You may not have realised or even noticed but messages have been sent out by the Highways England for the last few months about the pending improvements they intend to begin work on for the M23.
Whilst most improvements are welcomed it is no comfort for the thousands of drivers who use the section of the motorway between Crawley and the M25.
Small repairs and improvements over the past few years have seen traffic jams become a regular occurrence which means with almost 2 years of work about to begin, travelling on the M23 is about to become even more of a chore.
Highways England say they will be:
Upgrading the 11 mile (18km) stretch of the M23 near Gatwick Airport, between junction 8 near Merstham and junction 10 at Copthorne, to an all-lane running smart motorway.
They also state that the reasons for the improvement include, Safety, Congestion and Journey times.
They also say:
The M23 is a crucial part of the UK strategic road network connecting Crawley and Gatwick Airport to the M25 motorway, routes into London and the rest of the UK. This stretch of the M23 is heavily used by traffic travelling to and from Gatwick Airport and between Brighton and London, especially during UK holiday periods. As a result safety, congestion and journey times are all key issues that need to be improved. As junction 9 of the M23 is the main access for traffic travelling to and from Gatwick Airport, this scheme is of particular local and national economic and political importance.
The aim is to convert this stretch of the motorway into a smart motorway. This includes converting the hard shoulder into a permanent lane with emergency refuge areas and additional traffic monitoring to ensure problems are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Seven key changes are:
- four permanent running lanes in each direction, created by conversion of the hard shoulder
- redefined junction layouts to accommodate the extra lane
- 16 new gantries to carry the new variable message signs
- 12 new emergency refuge areas
- a hardened central reserve with a new rigid concrete barrier
- new noise barriers where identified by environmental assessment
- work to maintain access to the motorway from Weatherhill Depot and for traffic officers
So be prepared for narrow lanes, temporary safety barriers and plenty of speed restrictions.
There will also be temporary closures at night.
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