Garda issues warning after shocking number of Cork motorists fined for leaving children travel without seatbelts

Garda issues warning after shocking number of Cork motorists fined for leaving children travel without seatbelts

Drivers can face up to four penalty points and a fine of €800 if convicted in court for failing to wear a seatbelt. This also applies to drivers who fail to ensure passengers under the age of 17 are restrained.

A TOTAL of 463 tickets have been issued to motorists not wearing seatbelts in Cork City alone this year, 92 of whom had left children unrestrained in their vehicles.

Garda Inspector James Hallinan voiced concern that a number of children identified without seatbelts were under the age of three.

He warned the overall recorded figure is set to rise as tickets are processed and emphasised the urgent need for a cultural shift in relation to traffic offences.

Drivers can face up to four penalty points and a fine of €800 if convicted in court for failing to wear a seatbelt. This also applies to drivers who fail to ensure passengers under the age of 17 are restrained.

“There are tickets that still have to go through the system so that figure is set to rise,” Insp Hallinan said. “Most likely, there are multiple people outside of that number who are getting away with this. Gardaí have seen it all.

“However, continuing to see children jumping around in the back without seatbelts at this stage is mind-boggling. Parents need to realise that, in the event of a crash, this is going to result in a lot more injuries.”

He described a death or life-changing injury as “the ultimate sanction”.

“We have the inquests and the trials where people’s error of judgement or lapse of concentration is brought to the fore. We can’t turn back the clock. Motorists may receive fines or penalty points but the ultimate sanction for these offences is a serious or fatal injury.”

Inspector Hallinan reiterated the dangers for parents ignoring seatbelt warnings.

“Children are precious cargo but cargo in the face of a traffic accident will travel unless it is restrained,” said Insp Hallinan. “We have seen the ads where a person becomes an object that can do damage to other people as well as themselves. We want to look after everyone’s safety. Our job is to enforce the legislation but the primary responsibility rests with the motorist.”

He described the chain of heartbreak resulting from road-traffic fatalities.

“It’s a traumatic experience for everyone concerned,” he said.

“Emergency services deal with the heartache in those moments but the most important people are those who have to deal with the loss of a loved one.”

The inspector is pleading with the public to stay safe on the roads this Christmas.

“We don’t want to be the ones knocking on your door to say a loved one isn’t coming back. We don’t want to see people over Christmas to bring them bad news. They don’t want to see us either and that’s not something we take personally. Just because you are trained doesn’t mean you ever become immune to delivering news like this.

“Families will always have questions that we don’t have the answers to.

“There are always the logical questions like “how could this have happened to my wife?

“How could this have happened to my son or daughter? The answers to these questions won’t be there until an investigation takes place.”

Inspector Hallinan urged motorists to take responsibility for their own safety.

“If you are drunk or drug driving you are creating a hazard to everyone else,” he said. “If you are on your phone you are creating a hazard to everyone else.

“It’s time that people started taking responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others.”

Members of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee were told this week by chief superintendent Barry McPolin that the number of fatal crashes in the division to date this year is substantially higher than last year.

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