DELIVERY drivers and their passengers are being warned they must wear their seatbelts, except on very short journeys.

From Tuesday, March 1, it will be compulsory for them to belt up when making deliveries or collections if they travel over 50 metres - roughly the width of an average football pitch.

The Department for Transport estimates that if seatbelt wearing in these vehicles is brought up to the level seen in cars, then this change could prevent some 20 deaths, 240 serious injuries and 1,000 slight injuries annually.

Currently goods vehicle users are exempt from wearing a seatbelt when making local rounds of deliveries or collections.

However, some van and goods vehicle users wrongly consider themselves exempt whatever distance they're travelling.

"Following consultation, we decided that 50 metres was a reasonable distance to travel without wearing a seatbelt when undertaking deliveries or collections," said Road Safety Minister David Jamieson.

"Those carrying out genuine house-to-house calls will not be affected by the change.

"Making the law clear will help us bring down the number of delivery drivers not wearing a seatbelt."

At the moment 30 per cent of drivers and 43 per cent of their passengers fail to wear a seat belt.

Alternatively, 93 per cent of car drivers wear one and 94 per cent of front passengers.