Road policing crews from Cleveland and Durham Police are supporting a Europe-wide seatbelt campaign this week week.
The initiative will see officers stopping vehicles where drivers or passengers are not wearing their seatbelts all this week as part of the work carried out by TISPOL, the European traffic police network.
And with schools having just gone back across the region, police will be paying particular attention to parents dropping off or picking up their children
Under current legislation, 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.
Inspector Wendy Tinkler (pictured above), from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “If you travel in a vehicle and fail to wear a seatbelt you are putting yourself and potentially others at a hugely increased risk of serious injury or death.
“Our aim is to keep motorists and passengers as safe as we possibly can and to reinforce the message that children are especially vulnerable.
“We need to protect them in the right manner whenever they are travelling in a vehicle, no matter how short or familiar the journey might be.”
Insp Tinkler added: “All too often our road policing officers have to deal with crashes where the simple act of wearing a seatbelt could have saved someone’s life. The action we are carrying out over the week should remind drivers they must belt up at the start of every journey.”
This operation follows on from the success of the first TISPOL seatbelt campaign of 2015 which was held in March. Officers issued 4,608 penalties for the non-wearing of seatbelts across the UK, including 30 in Durham and Cleveland.
Improving road safety is one of the key areas that Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, is focusing on in his Police and Crime Plan 2015-17.
He said: “Drivers have a duty of care to ensure their passengers wear their seatbelts, especially young passengers, who may not be old enough to take responsibility for themselves and need to learn how to stay safe.
“There is no excuse. No one should die because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt, and I fully support this campaign.”