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Tougher penalties call on seatbelts

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Scottish ministers have called for tougher penalties for people who do not buckle up while behind the wheel, after research showed 19 lives could have been saved last year if drivers had worn a seatbelt.

Currently, motorists who fail to belt up risk a fixed penalty notice of a £60 fine, while they may also suffer from higher car insurance premiums.

However in a bid to tackle the issue more efficiently, the Scottish Government said those found breaching the law by not wearing their belt should also be punished by having penalty points added to their driver's licence.

Responsibility for the law on seatbelts is not devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with decision-making powers remaining with Westminster.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson are now urging UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to introduce harsher penalties.

Research showed in 2008-2009, 27,503 people committed seatbelt offences in Scotland, and the figure has not changed significantly over the past decade.

The Scottish Government proposes that drivers have points on their licence if they are not wearing a seatbelt, or if they have a child under 14 travelling in their car without restraint.

Motorists would not be legally responsible for adult passengers who fail to wear a seatbelt, under the proposals. The penalty for adult passengers would remain a £60 fine.

© Press Association 2010