It is 50 years since the first seat belt law was passed in Britain.
The 1966 legislation made it compulsory for all new cars to have seat belt fittings. This simple change has revolutionised the way that drivers and passengers look after their own safety when driving.
In a crash you are twice as likely to die if you don’t wear a seat belt and the government’s THINK! campaign has played a crucial role in reminding people of the importance of this safety measure. For the past 10 years the number of people wearing seat belts has consistently been above 90%, with a high of 98% of car drivers recorded wearing a seat belt in 2014.
Road Safety Minister Andrew Jones said: “The introduction of compulsory seat belts 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 seat belts 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 seat belts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law and drivers caught without a seat belt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, Suzette Davenport, said: “Seat belts 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 seat belts.”
The style of THINK! seat belt advertisements has changed over the years, but the message remains the same, wear a seat belt. A montage of the government’s seat belt advertisements is available on the THINK! website.