lthough most people wear a seatbelt when travelling by private car, the same does not apply when they get into a taxi. However, the launch of this year’s third safety awareness day by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland aims to put this right. Assistant Chief Constable Neil Richardson explained the reason for the campaign: "We are focusing our attention on taxis and private hire vehicles because experience tells us a significant number of people fail to put on a seatbelt when they jump in the back."
Statistics back up the seriousness of the situation, with figures from the Scottish Executive showing that an average of 521 taxis crashed each year in Scotland between 2000 and 2004. Of these accidents, 471, or 90%, were in built-up areas. To get the message across, police say patrols will target people who are speeding or not wearing a seatbelt. Taxis will be a key focus and those not complying with the law risk a fine. Road policing head, Superintendent Pat Docherty, commented: "Passengers have the false impression that on a short journey they don't need to belt up, but it only takes a second for a serious crash."
Someone who is all too aware of the reality of the situation is Grant Christie, 24, from Erskine, Renfrewshire, who was among four passengers badly injured in a taxi after a night out in Edinburgh in June this year. He is still feeling the effects three months later and says: "My girlfriend was sitting opposite me, wearing a seatbelt, and was only hurt by me hitting her. She needed facial surgery, while I broke my leg and lost four teeth. Since the accident we all make sure we put our seatbelts on in taxis."