40 years of one of the greatest safety devices ever created – the seat belt

Posted on 25/01/23 |

Controversy was stirred recently when UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared in a video, posted on social media, where he was seen in the back seat of a moving vehicle without his seat belt fastened.

Car occupants have been legally required to wear a seat belt in a moving vehicle for 40 years. The seat belt was originally invented in Sweden and first adopted by Volvo. The invention’s proven track record of saving lives has led to it becoming as familiar and ubiquitous as the steering wheel.

IAM RoadSmart’s policy on seat belt use is straightforward...

Seat belts have saved countless lives – plausibly numbering in the millions – since their introduction. The risk of death or severe injury in a collision increases dramatically for anyone not wearing their seat belt.  That’s why it’s critical for drivers and passengers alike to ensure that their seat belts are fastened.

As we all know, nobody is exempt from the danger that is present when driving or travelling as a passenger in a moving vehicle.

The Prime Minister has reportedly been issued a conditional offer of a fixed penalty for the offence. This will cost him £100, which could increase up to £500 if the matter ends up going to court.

What are the statistics on people wearing seat belts?

In 2021, of all car occupant fatalities, 34% of males and 20% of females were not wearing seat belts.

17-29-year-olds were the worst offenders with 40% of fatalities not wearing a seat belt. Of all fatalities that occurred between 6pm and 8am, 47% were not wearing a seat belt.

When we compare these figures to the far smaller portion of car occupants who are observed not wearing seat belts (usually between 10% and 5%), it becomes clear how real the danger is of travelling without a seat belt, in the event of a collision, and is an issue we must all take seriously.

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