Almost 600 drivers in Devon and Cornwall were detected not wearing seatbelts by a camera system which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to capture offences.
Devon & Cornwall Police hosted a pioneering trial of the Aecom technology, which uses cameras to capture images of seatbelt and mobile phone offences, towards the end of last year.
The news comes as the UK marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of seatbelt laws.
The results of the trial have been released by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, who funded the trial of the ground-breaking Aecom system.
In total, 590 drivers were detected not wearing seatbelts at various locations across Devon and Cornwall during the 15-day trial period. This included major routes such as the A30 and A38.
Of the drivers detected:
- 162 have opted to undertake an educational driver training course
- 61 have paid a fixed penalty fine
- 298 cases are having files prepared for court for the offence of failing to identify a driver
- Investigations are ongoing in 29 cases where the registered keeper has nominated a new named driver
A small number of drivers were found to be exempt from wearing a seatbelt due to certain medical conditions or specific commercial exemptions.
During the trial the camera system detected between 0.5 and 22 seatbelt offences per hour across the various locations. The worst sites were Sidmouth Road in Exeter, where offences were detected in 2% of all traffic monitored, and Embankment Road in Plymouth, which had a detection rate of 22 seatbelt offences per hour.
The Aecom technology also detected 45 mobile phone offences during its deployment.
Adrian Leisk is Devon and Cornwall Police’s Head of Road Safety and chair of the Vision Zero South West enforcement group.
Mr Leisk said: “These results are really worrying. Most people put on their seatbelt without even thinking about it whenever they get in their car – so it’s amazing that 40 years since it became compulsory to wear them, there are still hundreds in the South West who refuse to do so.
“Last year we saw numerous serious collisions in which drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts were killed or seriously injured.
“We know that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death for drivers in a road collision by around 50%. Yet almost a third of the people who died in UK car collisions in 2021 were not wearing a seat belt – the highest level recorded since recent records began.
“Please, please make sure you buckle up before every trip – no matter the distance.”
More information and figures on UK seatbelt wearing can be found here: PACTS Briefing: Seat Belts – Time for Action – PACTS