Coroner’s concerns over use of clips to ease seatbelt pressure after man’s death

Emergency services at the scene of the crash in Out Risbygate on March 21
Emergency services at the scene of the crash in Out Risbygate on March 21

A coroner has expressed concern about webbing clips used to ease the pressure from car seatbelts following the death of a 75-year-old man in Bury St Edmunds.

Martin Watkins died from multiple injuries when his car crashed into the wall of flats in Out Risbygate on March 21.

Today an inquest at Bury St Edmunds heard that a post mortem examination had shown that Mr Watkins, a retired electrical contractor, of Ixworth Road, Norton, suffered severe head and chest injuries.

Forensic collision investigator Pc Jeff Cribb said in a statement that webbing clips being used by Mr Watkins and his wife Maureen may have added to the severity of Mr Watkin’s injuries, allowing him to slide forward before the belt restrained him.

The couple had been on their way to a supermarket when Mrs Watkins heard her husband say: “Oh, no”. The car began to veer across the road, mounting a pavement and going through a low boundary wall.

Pc Cribb said : “It is most likely that he was unable to control the car because of a medical episode.”

Assistant Suffolk Coroner Nigel Parsley recorded a conclusion that Mr Watkins died of multiple injuries sustained in a road traffic collision.

Mr Parsley said he was concerned about the use of webbing clips which reduced the tension of the fitted seatbelt in a car.

While the evidence was not conclusive and it was not possible to say whether it had contributed to the death of Mr Watkins, Mr Parsley added: “Anything which is used to make a driver more comfortable in a car must be used in such a way as not to detract from the safety equipment fitted in the vehicle.”