Seatbelts became law 40 years ago but too many don't belt up

On 31 January 1983, it became a legal requirement for drivers and front-seat passengers to wear a seatbelt in Britain. 

Forty years on, nearly a quarter of motorists believe too many continue to ignore the law – with this being a major contributor to crash deaths – and are demanding harsher punishments for offenders, says a new study.

Its survey revealed one in 25 admitting they driven without a belt in the past year and came in the same month Rishi Sunak was issued a fixed penalty by Lancashire Police, after a social media clip showed the Prime Minister in the back of a vehicle failing to wear a seatbelt. 

While 1983 saw the law changed so that drivers and front-seat passengers legally had to belt up, it only became compulsory for children aged 14 and under to wear a seatbelt in the rear of a car in 1989.

It wasn’t until two years later in 1991 that the legal requirement to wear the safety devices was extended to all vehicle occupants.

Yet despite laws dating back four decades, the proportion of drivers and passengers being killed on our roads when not wearing a seatbelt is the highest since records began. 

Of the number of people killed in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2021, Department for Transport statistics show that 30 per cent were not belted up (the largest proportion on records dating back to 2013).

Responding to the DfT’s road casualty statistics released in October, Katherine Fletcher, the former parliamentary under-secretary of state for the DfT, said this proportion of road deaths where occupants were not wearing seatbelts was ‘unacceptably high’.

Source of data and images: dailymail

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