Seat belts have been compulsory for all passengers to wear in a car since 1991, yet West Yorkshire Police issued 4,835 tickets to people for seat belt offences in 2016. Of those, 2,823 were in Bradford, 600 were in Leeds, 595 were in Wakefield, 547 were in Kirklees and 66 were in Calderdale.
More than 300 drivers were stopped by officers for offences concerning children not wearing seat belts.
The force released the figures at the start of a Europe-wide campaign this week which seeks to remind the public of the dangers of not wearing a seat belt.
Sergeant James Farrar, of West Yorkshire Police’s Safer Roads and Neighbourhood Support Team East, said: “It seems like the most natural thing to most people, when you get in a vehicle to put on your seat belt but there are still people who don’t. We see people every day driving around West Yorkshire not wearing a seat belt. In some cases, these people also aren’t buckling up their children too which is a huge cause for concern.
“If you are in a collision you are twice as likely to die if you are not wearing your seat belt. Often people not wearing a seat belt could be thrown from a vehicle during a collision and receive serious or fatal injuries.
“Ultimately, you could receive a £500 fine if prosecuted for not wearing your seat belt. Criminalising people isn’t our aim, we want people to understand the danger they are putting themselves and their passengers in by not wearing a seatbelt. These passengers are often your friends and family, can you imagine the consequences if you were involved in an accident?
“People are often of the opinion, ‘It’s only a short journey’, ‘I’m being careful’ and ‘It’ll never happen to me’. The reality is, you can be the most careful driver in the world, but you cannot account for other drivers or circumstances you encounter on your journey.
“Those aged 17-24 have the lowest rate of wearing a seat belt and are also most likely to be involved in an crash, but it could happen to anyone, any age on any day.”
Sgt Farrar added: “Our advice is clear. When you get in a vehicle, make sure you and any passengers are wearing your seat belt. Quite simply, it could save your life.”
The number of seat belt offences in Bradford last year was so much higher than other parts of the region because of a dedicated clampdown in the city called Operation Steerside.