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Fifty Years of Seat Belts and People Still Ignoring the Risks

February 6, 2015

For fifty years there have been seat belt laws in place in this country, and whilst this is a fantastic milestone, many organisations including the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) have warned that too any drivers are still ignoring the requirements and putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.

It was January 1965 when the first seat belt laws were introduced. It required that all new cars in the UK must have seat belt anchorage points on the front seats and this led to the many more complex and compulsory seat belt laws with regards to design and the wearing of belts in the years to follow.

seatbelt legislation saves lives

Seatbelt Safety: The Stats

The Department for Transport information shows that of the 232 car occupants who were killed in 2013, of which there was record of their seat belt, 45 were not wearing belts. Further research carried about by not-for-profit Safer Roads suggests that as many as 2000 lives are saved every single year because of the wearing of seat belts and their research shows that if there is an accident and you’re not wearing a belt, the force at which you will hit the windscreen or the front seat from the back is 30 to 60 times your own body weight.

Research from the Road Safety Observatory shows that seat belts are 45% effective when it comes to preventing serious or even fatal injuries and 20% effective when it comes to minor ones.

Seatbelt Safety: The Law

The laws in place are designed to provide drivers who may not have due care for the safety risk of not wearing a seat belt with another deterrent. Drivers caught without a seat belt can receive an on-the-spot fine of £100 as well as three penalty points on their licence, and if it goes as far as prosecution fines of up to £500 could be added to this.

The first laws in 1965 only required cars to have seat belt anchorage points for the front outer seats, but this was built upon in 1967 when seat belts themselves were required to be fitted in all new cars. 1968 saw the need for all cars built from 1965 to have retro-fitted car seats put in place.

1983 was the year of the big change, when it became compulsory for front seat passengers to wear a seatbelt and in 1989 this was extended for all children under 14 to wear seat belts in the rear. It’s hard to believe but it wasn’t until 1991 that it was compulsory that all rear seated passengers had to wear a belt.

There is still a sector of the driving population who don’t respect the requirements when it comes to wearing seat belts and this can be at their peril. If involved in a road traffic accident the change of serious injury is significantly increased and surely clicking on a belt is worth the peace of mind and extra security it provides, especially as it takes seconds to do and can save lives.

photo credit: Seatbelt plug via photopin (license)