EIGHT people were stopped by police in Basingstoke this morning for not wearing a seatbelt while travelling in a vehicle.

The operation was part of a European wide campaign to crackdown on those failing to comply with the seatbelt law. Officers from Hampshire’s Road Policing Unit were positioned at the Thorneycroft Industrial Estate, in Worting Road, next to Morrisons supermarket, from 8am, to catch those in the morning’s rush hour.

Within the first 10 minutes, four people had been pulled over.

Those who were stopped included a driver in a van belonging to D&D NRG plumbing and heating and a passenger in an Anglian windows van.

Those caught were given the option of paying a £100 fine or paying £30 to take part in an online educational course about the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt.

PC Andrew Daw, who was part of the operation, said: “It’s hard to enforce because people don’t see it as impacting on others.”

The majority of those pulled over during the 45 minute operation were van drivers.

Sergeant Barry Long said: “A lot of the vans are a bit older and don’t have the alarms to remind them to put their belt on. But it’s been law since 1983 so there’s no real excuse.

"It’s mainly an educational purpose which is why there’s the option of an online course which is cheaper than the fine. It’s to promote safety – if they don’t have their seatbelt on they are more likely to be seriously injured or killed if they crash, or roll around the vehicle.”

The campaign was launched after research showed that failure to wear a seatbelt is one of the main reasons people die in road crashes.

A recent national roadside survey revealed that on average, five per cent of people do not wear a seatbelt.

Sergeant Rob Heard, Hampshire’s road safety officer, said this put “themselves and others in real danger.”

He added: “There are a few exceptions for people in certain circumstances but for the vast majority it’s essential they belt up to stay safe and avoid a hefty fine. Drivers also need to realise it’s their responsibility to make sure children under 14 wear a seatbelt or use a suitable child restraint.”