Seat Belts

‘You are twice as likely to die in a crash if you don’t wear a seat belt’

In a crash someone not wearing a seat belt is more likely to die than someone using one. In 2007, of the 1,432 car occupants killed, research indicates that some 34 per cent were not wearing a seat belt.

One click could save your life - Always belt up

While few people admit to regularly travelling without a seat belt, research shows that 24 per cent of people admit they sometimes don’t wear a seat belt when travelling in the back, and 10 per cent in the front. There is also evidence that people are less likely to use seat belts on short or familiar journeys or at low speeds. This puts them at serious risk of injury in a crash.

Nearly 300 lives would almost certainly have been saved in 2007 if all car occupants had been wearing a belt.

The law

By law, everyone must wear a seat belt in cars and goods vehicles where one is fitted. This includes both front and backseat passengers as well as the driver.

When did using a seat belt become law?

It became compulsory to use seat belts in the front of vehicles in 1983, although advertising on using seat belts started ten years before that.

Back seat belt use by children became compulsory in 1989, and for adults it became compulsory in 1991.

Also, the driver is liable to prosecution if a child under 14 years does not wear a seat belt or a child restraint.

Child restraints

Children up to 135cms tall must use the appropriate child restraint for their weight (not age) when travelling in the front or back seat of any car, van or goods vehicle.

A child can use an adult belt when they reach 135cm or their 12th birthday, whichever comes first.

Do I really need to use a seat belt in the back seat of a car?

Yes, by law, you do. Seat belts save lives and reduce injuries, whether used in the front or back. Back seat passengers can be thrown forward onto the person in front of them, killing or seriously injuring them.

Can I be prosecuted for not using a seat belt?

Yes, you can. In 2006 there were some 230,000 penalties or prosecutions in court. A seatbelt offence currently carries a minimum penalty of £100 fixed penalty fine with no endorsable penalty points. However, ii the case goes to court, this can increase to a maximum fine of £500.