(2) what research his Department (a) has commissioned, (b) plans to commission and (c) has evaluated on the effects of seat belt reminder systems on seat belt wearing rates; and if he will make a statement.
The last UK seat belt wearing survey in 2008 recorded 95 per cent. of drivers and 93 per cent. of front seat passengers wore seat belts in passenger cars. Published research has indicated that seat belt reminders can have a positive effect on seat belt wearing rates. The Department for Transport has not commissioned and has no plans to commission further research on the merits of installing a seat belt reminder system in all new vehicles sold.
(2) what recent discussions he has had with the European Commission on the introduction of seat belt reminders in new vehicles; and if he will make a statement.
The motor industry was partner to detailed negotiations that led to requirements within regulations made under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe for seat belt reminders to be fitted to the driver’s seat in passenger cars. The European Commission has brought forward proposals to adopt these requirements into Community law as part of their regulatory simplification process and the Department for Transport will be meeting with Commission officials later this month.
The most recent report the Department has produced on the effectiveness of wearing seat belts was published in November 2008, Road Safety Research Report 98—“Strapping Yarns: Why People Do and Do Not Wear Seat Belts”.
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The decision to offer any driving safety course as an alternative to prosecution or a fixed penalty notice is entirely a matter for the police where they feel it is the most productive option. There is nothing to prevent the police offering courses in respect of the benefits of using seat belts.