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

By 23rd January 2023No Comments

Controversy was stirred recently when UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared in a video, recorded from the back seat of a moving vehicle for use on social media, with his seat belt conspicuously unfastened.

The three-point seatbelt is an enduring constant in the rapidly evolving interiors of our vehicles, and car occupants have now been legally required to wear one for 40 years – longer than many UK drivers have been alive. 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 seatbelts are fastened.

Nobody is exempt from the danger that is present when driving or travelling as passenger in a moving vehicle.

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

In 2021, of all car occupant fatalities, 34% of males and 20% of females were not wearing a seatbelt. 17-29-year-olds were the worst offenders with 40% of fatalities not wearing a seatbelt. Of all fatalities that occurred between 6pm and 8am, 47% of were not wearing a seatbelt.

Compare these figures to the far smaller portion of car occupants who are observed not wearing seat belts (usually between 10% and 5%), and it becomes clear how real the danger of driving without a seatbelt is.

Free safety poster: Seatbelt Safety

There are exemptions from the legal requirement to wear a seat belt: emergency services, and delivery drivers traveling less than 50 metres between stops, and in certain situations in a normal car, such as when reversing. Click here for more examples and information about exemptions.

To learn more about how IAM RoadSmart can help you enhance your fleet, contact us.

Gary Bates

Author Gary Bates

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