Seatbelt control nabbed hundreds

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Police and highway authorities had warned they’d be mounting massive seatbelt control posts around Norway during the weekend, but that didn’t prompt all motorists to buckle up. Fully 884 were caught driving without seatbelts, and all were hit with hefty fines.

Police regularly set up controls to check for drunk driving, but cases of driving under the influence are nonetheless on the rise. PHOTO: Politi

Police regularly set up controls to check for drunk driving, but they were checking on seatbelt use over the weekend as well, and issued nearly 900 citations. PHOTO: Politi

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that numbers compiled on Monday indicated there’s still a “serious” level of motorists who ignore Norway’s strict rules that everyone in the car must be buckled up. In some cases, none of the passengers in the car was using a seatbelt, and they were all fined.

Parents were also cited for failing to properly secure their children in the car. That ended with police charges filed against 57 of them in addition to the fines of NOK 1500 (USD 250).

Excuses ranged from “I was only heading out on a short drive” to “I just forgot,” according to Rita Helen Aarvold of Statens Vegvesen (the state highway department). Others blamed “language problems,” misunderstandings or a lack of knowledge that seatbelts are required in Norway. Around half of those cited were foreigners, “so it’s plausible that language barriers have made these drivers less aware of the rules or the control post warnings,” Grethe Utheim of Statens Vegvesen in Vestfold, southwest of Oslo, told NRK.

Aarvold was shaken over the large numbers of motorists driving without seatbelts, not least since a high percentage of those killed in traffic accidents had failed to buckle up. “We actually wrote out fewer citations this year than last, but it’s still disturbing that so many were caught when we had said we’d be putting up control posts,” Aarvold told NRK.

In one case, a motorist who’d been pulled over suddenly stepped on the gas and drove off at high speed. The car’s license plate number was immediately reported to police, and warrants went out to remove them from his car so that it no longer can be driven.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund