February 1, 2013
My first car was a 1962 Ford Cortina. I hasten to add that I didn’t buy it brand new. It was already well over 10 years old when it came into my ownership. I’m pretty sure it didn’t have seat belts and carmakers were not required to fit them until 1965.
I mention this because it is 30 years ago that the use of seat belts was made mandatory, despite the fact that drivers had been urged for many years ahead of 1983’s legal requirement to belt up.
Hands up who remembers the adverts “Clunk Click, Every Trip”, usually set on a background of a mangled, glass splintered face.
I know I was belting up way ahead of 1983 as by then I had graduated through Mk II and Mark IV Cortina’s with Triumphs Spitfire and GT6 in between. They all had seatbelts and I was more than happy to use them. I can’t say that they have saved my skin because (thankfully) I have not had a serious enough accident.
But there were people at the time who objected. Maybe if the human rights bill had been around then the whole idea of mandating seatbelts would have been roundly and expensively defeated.
So what have we learned since the law came in on January 31, 1983? Well, according to the Department for Transport, this legislation has saved over 60,000 lives in the past 30 years. That probably includes lives saved amongst rear seat passengers who have been required to buckle up since 1991.
However, the latest figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers of Scotland’s annual enforcement campaign showed that more than 700 drivers and passengers were found to be driving without wearing a seatbelt over a three day period.
It begs the question why weren’t they. It’s not as if it’s uncool. You don’t see Lewis Hamilton hurtling round the grand prix circuit, seatbelt unfastened, fag in mouth and elbow leaning over the side of the cockpit. He wears a belt for a reason.
Anyway, the anniversary has at least given Volvo the chance to roll out its favourite PR line about making completely crash-proof cars by 2020 – its mission: that nobody will be killed or seriously injured in or by a new Volvo by 2020.
Hmmn. I’m sure they’ll find a way.
Volvo has polled 1,184 drivers and found, amongst other things, that over a quarter would like a car that drives itself with more than half happy to be driven by autopilot.
Better jump on a ‘plane, then.