A significant proportion of people are killed or seriously injured every year in accidents on the UK’s roads as a result of failing to wear a seatbelt.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is keen to raise awareness surrounding this important issue and has highlighted figures published by the Department for Transport, which showed that in 2013 alone, of the 223 car occupants that were killed in accidents in the UK, almost one-fifth (19 per cent) were shown to have not been wearing a seatbelt.
Meanwhile, research published by non-profit organisation Safer Roads revealed as many as 2,000 people are saved from serious or fatal injuries every year as a result of buckling up.
Overall, the body stated that for drivers, wearing a seatbelt can reduce their likelihood of suffering fatal injuries in an accident by up to 50 per cent and by 45 per cent for serious injuries; while for passengers their incidence of fatal or serious injury is reduced by 40 per cent across the board.
IAM head of road safety Kevin Delaney said: “The biggest problem is complacency.
“Quite simply people feel it will never happen to them. They think if they are driving locally and at a low speed they will be OK. Statistics show that many accidents not only take place at low speeds but also within a few miles of home – so people are mistaken if they think that makes them safer.
“The trouble is if people are not wearing a seat belt and find themselves heading towards an accident, it is far too late to do anything about it.”
Now 32 years since it first became compulsory for all front seat passengers to belt up – rear passengers became subject to the same laws in 1991 – there still remain a significant number of people who feel they can flout the law and not wear a seatbelt.
It is not only a foolish and dangerous thing to do, but people need to realise that the law is not there to annoy them, but it is simply designed to specifically improve their chances of survival should they be involved in an accident – is that really so bad a thing?
Mr Delaney concluded: “We need to keep spreading the message particularly on rear seat belt use. And if people don’t take heed of it, they will end up as a Department for Transport accident statistic.”
In the event of an accident, figures published by Safer Roads show that an individual who is unrestrained will either hit the windscreen if sitting in the front, or the seat in front of them when in the rear, at a force of between 30 to 60 times their own bodyweight.
This is a massive blow for the body to take and can lead to serious and even life-threatening injuries. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to ensure they take the time to buckle up every time they take to the roads, either as a passenger or driver.