Hundreds die each year as they won't buckle-upSeat belt law introduced 25 years ago today

31 January 2008

The clasp of a seatbelt.

Hundreds of people are being killed in road crashes every year because they're not wearing a seat belt.

The first seat belt law – which made it compulsory to wear them in the front of cars – came into force 25 years ago today.

But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) says 370 people die each year because they aren't wearing a seat belt.

The accident safety body estimates that 6% of people sitting in the front of vehicles don't wear a seat belt and the problem is far worse among van drivers and their passengers.

Van drivers

Rospa says only 69% of van drivers and 58% of their passengers actually wear a seat belt and it’s now urging employers to do more to ensure their drivers and other employees wear their seat belts.

A further law making it compulsory to wear seat belts in the back of cars was introduced in 1991.

But Rospa says that 30% of adults are still not wearing them in the back. 

Rospa’s Head of Road Safety, Kevin Clinton, said: ‘It is shocking that a stubborn minority of people still do not belt up when they get into a vehicle. Research shows that about a third of car occupants receiving fatal injuries are not wearing seat belts.

‘We need to understand why they are still not getting the message and to ensure there are regular, targeted campaigns so that deaths and injuries continue to reduce.’

Airbags

Which? first tested seat belts in 1962 and, after pushing for improved standards by 1966, we campaigned for the standard fitting of seat belts.

Since it became law to wear a seat belt in the front of cars, it’s estimated that seven lives a day have been saved in the UK - or around 50,000 lives overall.

Which? Motoring Editor Richard Headland said: ‘The seat belt is still the single most important safety feature in any car – if you don't wear one you won't get the intended protection from airbags and other safety systems.

‘These figures suggest there’s a need for another high-profile campaign to remind drivers and passengers to buckle up – especially those in the back.’