In recent news it has been announced that the Department for Transport is considering a 74-point ‘action plan’ to update and renew motoring regulations. First among these is to toughen up seat belt rules. As sure as the changing of the seasons, this will surely mean a rise in the cost and severity of penalties.
In addition to financial pain, drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts could be subject to penalty points and even disqualification for recalcitrant wrong-doers. The system could also grass up the offender to others, causing increases in car insurance premiums and added difficulty when hiring cars. It sounds like the DfT means business, but with good reason.
In 2017 for example, twenty-seven percent of people killed in car accidents were not wearing a belt. At least a quarter of them would be alive today if they had only buckled up. It makes you think, doesn’t it?
Like many things that governments impose, for better or worse, the wearing of seat belts took a while to catch on, but the authorities see these things long-term and as a wearing-down process until the erring public shape up, if only to make the nagging stop. It worked, thank goodness, with the clearing up after dogs, the smoking in public places and the dropping of litter (somewhat). We grow to accept it.
Seat belts work, of this there is no question. To make excuses like allegedly forgetting or because they are uncomfortable butter no parsnips with the police. We have had many years to get into the ‘clunk-click’ habit.
Here in Great Britain, manufacturers were obliged to fit belt anchorage points from 1965. Subsequently there was a requirement to fit three-point belts on the seats but it took almost two more decades, 1983, for the wearing of belts, in the front seats, to be compulsory. By 1987 rear seatbelts were required in all new cars, but again the law took its time for the compulsory use; 1989 for children and 1991 for adults.
Subsequently child seats and further child safety rules were added. It’s 2019 now so it has taken over half a century to get where we are today; so don’t say you weren’t aware when you get nabbed and punished. From September of this year EU law (it will still apply regardless of the other on-going business) will require seatbelt reminder systems in front and rear seats on all new cars. No doubt, it will take many years before the majority of cars on the road have this feature however.
Statistics can mean a lot of different things to different people who differ about statistics. All manner of organisations trot them out and quote them like gospel texts but by and large it’s just a lot of numbers to most of us.
The same cannot be said of accident statistics. A dead motorist is a dead motorist. An injured child cannot be ignored. That’s why, just sometimes, Nanny knows best. Our cars are getting safer, of that there is no question, but devices like seat belts continue to require our active participation. It’s daft to do otherwise and that’s why all the cars we sell are thoroughly checked by a qualified AA inspector so we know the seat belts are in perfect working order, enabling the happy new owner to make the right decision.