UK Seat Belt Law

Published: 15th October 2008
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It is 25 years since it became compulsory for front seat car passengers in the UK to wear a seatbelt.

As soon as this law came into effect the compliance rates were high with about 94% of drivers and front passengers wearing a seatbelt. As a result over 50,000 lives have been saved by seatbelts since this law was introduced. This still means however that around 370 people a year are killed in road accidents because they weren't wearing a seatbelt.

When in 1991 the law was extended to include rear seat passengers the compliance rate wasn't nearly as high. Even today it is thought a third of adults don't wear a seatbelt when traveling in the back of a car.

Technically if you are a passenger in the back of a car and over the age of 14 then it is your own responsibility to ensure you wear a seatbelt. Why so few actually choose to wear a seatbelt is not known even though the dangers of not doing so are just as great as not wearing a front seat seatbelt. Of course the most common reason given is that the passenger simply forgot to belt-up.

The compliance rate is particularly low with teenagers. One school of thought is that teenagers think wearing a seatbelt in the back of a car simply isn't cool. Or that on a short journey there isn't any need to do so.

Even though it is the over 14's own responsibility to make sure they wear a seatbelt whilst driving in the back if they choose not to then it can be the driver or other front passenger who suffer. In a crash at 30mph, if unrestrained, a person traveling in the back of the car will be thrown forward with a force of between 30 and 60 times their own body weight. This force crashing into a driver or front seat passenger is enough to kill. So any driver who allows a passenger to travel in the back of their car without wearing a seatbelt is putting themselves at risk. It may be the over fourteens choice not to wear a seatbelt in the back but as driver it is your choice weather you drive or not. If they don't belt-up, you don't drive.

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