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31st January, 2008

25th anniversary of seatbelts - 60,000 lives saved

Thursday 00:02

Twenty five years of seatbelt wearing laws have helped save 60,000 lives, Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick revealed today.

Seatbelts have prevented an estimated 60,000 deaths and 670,000 serious injuries since 31 January 1983 when seatbelts were made mandatory for drivers and front seat passengers.

But on the 25th anniversary of the law change all passengers are being reminded to belt up in the back as well as the front. New research shows 9 out of 10 people agree it is dangerous to travel in the back of a car without a seatbelt but only 7 in 10 adults actually wear belts when sitting in the back.

Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"Tens of thousands of lives have been saved since the first law on wearing seatbelts was introduced 25 years ago. Government campaigns have helped increase the numbers of people wearing seatbelts to more than 90% for drivers and front seat passengers but too many back seat passengers are still not belting up.

"With up to 15 drivers and front seat passengers killed each year by the impact of an unbelted rear seat passenger it is vital that everyone - young or old, travelling in the front or back - wears a seatbelt."

The Department for Transport is undertaking a major research project into the use of and attitudes towards seatbelts and will use the findings to inform a new seatbelts campaign which will launch towards the end of 2008. Seatbelts timeline:

1965: It becomes compulsory to fit seatbelts in the front of cars built in Europe.

1970: "Clunk Click" TV commercials, starring Jimmy Saville show the dangers of being thrown through the windscreen in a collision, as wearing rates are very low.

1983: Front seatbelt wearing regulations for drivers and passengers (both adult and children) come into force.

1989: Wearing rear seatbelts become compulsory for children under 14.

1991: It becomes compulsory for adults to belt up in the back.

1993: "Elephant" TV commercial, shot in black and white, demonstrates the danger presented by an unrestrained back seat passenger in a crash, who can be thrown forward with the impact of three and a half tons.

1996: "Peter Pan" and "Doctor" radio commercials aimed at increasing awareness among children and teenagers are aired.

1998: "Julie" TV commercial comes as a reminder that unbelted rear seat passengers can not only injure themselves, but can also kill other people in the car.

1999: A cinema commercial "Vectorscope" screened nation wide in cinemas along with the "Julie" commercial.

2003: "Backwards" TV commercial demonstrates, with the help of a flying pizza, the difference that a simple click can make between life and death.

2007: "Julie" TV commercial is re-aired to educate a new generation about the importance of wearing a seatbelt in the back of the car.

Seatbelt facts:

* 75 % of passengers thrown from a car die. Unbelted occupants are 30 times more likely to be thrown from a car.

* In a crash at 30mph, if unrestrained, you will be thrown forward with a force up to 60 times your own bodyweight.

* The latest surveys show 93 per cent of adult front seat passengers and 94 per cent of drivers wear seatbelts. For back seat passengers, 93% of children (under 14) and 70% of adults are secured.

* All the safety features you paid for in your car were tested with the assumption you would be wearing a belt. Without a seatbelt, those safety features are not designed to work.

* If you are not wearing a seatbelt and you have a crash, there may be implications for how much your insurer might pay in respect of injuries.

* Once one person puts their seatbelt on, everyone else in the car is more likely to do so.

Notes to Editors

1. Research on numbers of lives saved by seatbelts conducted by TRL Ltd (formerly the Transport Research Laboratory). Report TRL 563 available on-line at http://www.trl.co.uk/store/report_list.asp?pid=211&pno=7&searchtext=&advancedsearch=&allwords=&submitted=1the Transport Research Laboratory.

2. Research on views on seatbelts conducted by BRMB in November 2007.

3. For full details of seatbelt wearing rates from 1982 to 2007 see http://www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk/campaigns/seatbelts/rates.htm

4. Penalties: Those convicted in court of a seatbelt wearing offence face a maximum fine of £500. If a Fixed Penalty Notice is offered and accepted, then the fine is £30.

5. In 2005, the official motoring offences figures show that there were 235,000 Fixed Penalty Notices issued, 5,900 court proceedings and 4,200 written warnings.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300 Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

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