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Motorists urged to buckle up

Seatbelt - GEM Motoring Assist

All drivers are being urged to ensure that they and their passengers use seatbelts on every journey.

The call from road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is in support of the latest week-long seatbelt enforcement operation by police forces.

Wearing a seatbelt is not only a legal requirement (with a £100 penalty for non-compliance), it’s also your number one lifesaver in the event of a collision, says GEM road safety officer Neil Worth.

“Seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45 per cent for drivers and front seat occupants. They also reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 per cent,” he said.

“If you’re not wearing a seatbelt and your vehicle is involved in a crash, you will simply become a projectile.

“That means you are likely to be flung at high speed – most probably against the front, side or rear windows.

“If your head hits the glass and it holds, you will sustain some sort of head injury. If it breaks, you will go through the window, almost certainly resulting in death or serious injury.

“If you’re wearing a seatbelt in the same situation, you would stay in your seat and hit nothing. You might have walked away unscathed.

“That’s why we urge all drivers to ensure that they – and their passengers – wear a seatbelt on every journey, and that any children travelling with you are using an appropriate child restraint.”

Lifesaving invention

The three-point seatbelt was developed by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin in 1959. The invention was a game changer and it’s estimated that it’s saved millions of lives across the world and prevented far more serious injuries.

Volvo Amazon - the first car to be fitted with a seatbelt

The reason it was so widely adopted is because Volvo opened up the patent so any car manufacturer could use it in their design. They decided that the invention was so significant, it had more value as a free life-saving tool than something to profit from.

Front seat belts had to be fitted to all new cars registered in the UK from 1972, although it didn’t become compulsory to wear them until 1983.

Seatbelts: who’s exempt?

UK law states you do not need to wear a seatbelt if you are:

  • Driving a car that is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
  • A licensed taxi driver currently “plying for hire” or carrying passengers
  • Driving a goods vehicle making deliveries, travelling no more than 50 metres between stops
  • Rarely, doctors may also issue exemptions from wearing a seatbelt for medical reasons

For all other vehicle occupants, there are no exemptions and no excuses for not wearing a seatbelt on every journey.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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