1985-04-01

Two Years’ Experience with the Seat Belt Law in Britain 851234

Seat belt use rates are discussed and some vehicle, user and environmental factors influencing voluntary usage rates are outlined. Educational efforts in raising usage rates in Britain voluntarily, showed a ceiling level of 30 to 40%. The legislative process leading up to the passage of the seat belt law in Britain is described and the main issues of public policy are outlined. The provisions of the law introduced in January 1983 are summarised, and then its effect on belt usage rates, deaths and casualties is reviewed. A 25% reduction in deaths and injuries on a year-on-year basis occurred coincident with an increase in belt use from about 40% to 90%. No significant changes appear to have occurred in other casualty classes. Some of the practical problems which have appeared post-law are discussed. Finally, some longer term casualty rate data are presented to illustrate the role of the seat belt legislation in trends over the last decade. The continuing problems of restrained drivers being injured from steering wheels is mentioned, together with the effects of no rear seat belts being required in cars in Britain.

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