ALMOST half of all school children aged 10 and 11 in Torfaen have admitted to not wearing a seat belt when travelling by car.

In a survey of 960 children carried out by Torfaen’s Road Safety Team, 49 per cent said that they had not worn seat belts on at least one occasion.

Among the reasons given by the children included times when vehicles were overcrowded, no seat belts were available, and that they didn’t think it was important to wear a seat belt on short journeys.

Both passengers and drivers are twice as likely to die in a car crash if they are not wearing a seat belt.

Kate Kerr, Torfaen’s road safety officer, said: “It astonishes and saddens me to find that so many parents and responsible adults are failing to make sure that their children are belted up safety when taking them out in the car.

“Not only are they putting the child’s life in danger, but the lives of everyone else in that vehicle.

“I would urge all drivers to ensure that all of their passengers, but especially children, have their seat belts fitted properly before setting off on a journey. It takes just a few seconds and in the event of a road traffic incident could mean the difference between life and death.”

Torfaen Inspector, David Morgan, said: “Seatbelts are there for a reason, they save lives. Failing to wear a seatbelt is one of the fatal five offences which has been shown to be the main causes for death and serious injuries on our roads.

“Even on a short trip and at low speed, a seatbelt reduces the likelihood of being seriously injured or even killed on the road. It should be part of every person’s routine before the ignition is turned on."

It is the responsibility of the driver of the vehicle to ensure that anyone under the age 14 is wearing a seat belt and failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £500.

He added: “Sadly, for reasons I will never understand, some people choose to ignore all our advice and take the risk.

“We will continue to target this offence in our daily patrols across the Force area to help make Gwent roads safer.”