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Campaign urges drivers to 'belt up'

Driver putting on a seatbeltMotorists and their passengers have been reminded to "belt up" as campaigners celebrate 30 years of seatbelt legislation that has saved thousands of lives.

Car makers have installed seatbelts in most vehicles for almost 50 years.

However, safety laws making it compulsory for all drivers to wear seatbelts were not passed until January 31, 1983.

Experts claim the law prevents more than 2,000 road-related deaths in the UK every year, with seatbelts thought to have saved around 60,000 lives in the 30 years since legislation was passed.

Law change

The Department for Transport (DfT) claimed the law had an immediate impact on drivers, with nine in 10 motorists and front-seat passengers wearing seatbelts shortly after its introduction.

Ministers passed an additional law in 1991 requiring all passengers, including those sitting in the back of the car, to wear seatbelts.

This sparked a 40 per cent increase in "observed seatbelt wearing rates" within a matter of weeks.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond claimed the seatbelt campaign had saved thousands of lives and prevented "countless injuries" since it was introduced.

'Vast majority' wear seatbelts

He said: "The combination of effective enforcement and hard-hitting public awareness campaigns mean that, 30 years on, the vast majority of drivers and passengers buckle up when they get in their cars.

"But, unbelievably, there are still some people who do not use a seatbelt.

"My message to them is simple. A seatbelt could save your life and not wearing one is just not worth the risk."

Despite the overwhelming success of seatbelt laws over the past 30 years, campaign groups are stepping up their efforts to reinforce their message.

New campaign

Brake, the road safety charity, has urged drivers and their passengers to wear seatbelts, particularly for short trips, while parents have been advised to use booster cushions or proper car seats for children.

Franki Hackett, campaigns officer at road safety charity Brake, said most drivers heed their advice

But he added that "some people still choose not to belt up particularly if travelling very short distances".

Hackett said: "Seatbelts are incredibly important and the Department for Transport estimates they save more than 2,000 lives every year.

"It's essential drivers to make sure that everyone in their vehicle wears a seatbelt no matter how short the journey."

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