The 50th anniversary of the legislation that made it compulsory for all new cars to have seatbelt fittings installed was marked by the government yesterday (3 January).
The legislation, passed in 1966, paved the way for today’s seatbelt laws and the government says thousands of lives have been saved as a result.
It adds that this ‘simple change’ has revolutionised the way in which drivers and passengers look after their own safety.
For the past 10 years the number of people wearing seatbelts has consistently been above 90%, with a high of 98% of car drivers recorded wearing a seatbelt in 2014.
The government says its THINK! campaign, and the changing nature of its style (video above), has played a crucial role in reminding people of the importance of this safety measure.
Andrew Jones, road safety minister, said: “The introduction of compulsory seatbelts has, without a doubt, saved many thousands of lives and has had a huge impact on road safety.
“Many families have been spared the heartbreak of a death or serious injury of a loved one as a result of a simple action at the start of each trip.
“While the vast majority of people do wear seatbelts in both the front and back seats, there are still some who don’t and I urge all drivers and passengers to make sure they are safely belted in, even on the shortest of journeys.”
Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law and drivers caught without a seatbelt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.
Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, said: “Seatbelts are not only a legal requirement, they are the first and best line of preventative defence against death and serious injury in road traffic collisions.
“During our recent week-long road safety campaign, 2,961 offences were recorded, which shows that some people are still not getting the message.
“We in the police will do our utmost to keep our roads safe for all of us, but I urge the public in the strongest terms to do what they can to help us, first and foremost by remembering to wear their seatbelts.”