Seatbelt law celebrates 30th birthday

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Seatbelt law celebrates 30th birthday

30 years ago today, a law came into practice that made it illegal for anyone to drive a car without buckling up.

Well over 60,000 lives have been saved by seatbelts since January 31, 1983, when the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents'(RoSPA) then-President, Lord Nugent of Guildford, won the day for compulsory wearing in the front seat of cars by introducing an amendment to the Transport Bill in the House of Lords. A law making it compulsory to wear seatbelts in the back of cars was introduced in 1991.

Despite general knowledge of seatbelt safety being high in the UK - with 95% of car drivers and front seat passengers complying with the law – there is still concern that seatbelt use is lower in the rear of cars (89 per cent) and in the front seat of other vehicles (69 per cent) such as vans, buses and coaches.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA's head of road safety, said: "Despite the fact that thousands of lives have been saved by seatbelts thanks to RoSPA's and Lord Nugent's efforts, latest figures still show that a minority of people are not belting up. "We must not become complacent over seatbelt wearing; seatbelts are highly effective in protecting vehicle occupants and significantly reduce the risk of being fatally or seriously injured in a crash.

"As television advertisements have shown, an unbelted rear seat passenger can be thrown forward and kill someone in the front of a car. In a crash at 30mph, if unrestrained you will be thrown forward with a force of between 30 and 60 times your own bodyweight."

You can see an early attempt to raise awareness of seatbelt safety in this early television advert from the 1960's. It's a far cry from today's gruesomely haunting offerings but the message remains the same.