Thirty years of seatbelt safety

The law requiring all drivers to wear their seatbelts came in to force 30 years ago on 31 January 1983.

Car manufacturers have had to install seatbelts since 1965 but the law requiring drivers to wear them did not come in to force for another 18 years. In 1991 the law changed again making it a legal requirement for adults to wear seatbelts in the back of cars.

Soon after the compulsory driver seatbelt use law came into effect in 1983, 90% of car drivers and front-seat passengers were observed to be wearing seat belts. These high rates of seat belt wearing in front-seats of cars have been sustained since that time.

When seatbelt wearing became compulsory for all rear-seat occupants in 1991, there was an immediate increase from 10% to 40% in observed rear-seat belt wearing rates.

The rate has continued to steadily increase, and when this was last measured it had increased to 79%.

Watch a selection of historic THINK! seatbelt campaign adverts on the right of this page.

Always wear a seatbelt

In a crash you're twice as likely to die if you don’t wear a seatbelt.

The facts

  • Drivers and passengers aged 17-34 have the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates combined with the highest accident rate
  • There is evidence that people are less likely to use seatbelts on short or familiar journeys - this puts them at serious risk of injury in a crash

The law

  • Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law
  • Drivers caught without a seatbelt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500

Wearing a seat belt and exemptionsOpens new window

THINK! Advice

Always wear a seatbelt. In a crash you’re twice as likely to die if you don’t.

Not wearing a seatbelt can be a fatal decision even on short, familiar journeys and at low speeds.

Wear your seatbelt correctly so it can offer you the best possible protection in a crash.

Crash Simulation

What happens if you don't belt-up? Experience the effects on screen so you never have to experience them on the road.

You will need Adobe Flash player to view the crash simulator.

Download the Flash Player from

If you have installed Flash Player and are unable to see the game try clicking the refresh key 'F5'.

How to use the Crash Simulator

  • Click on 01, 02, or 03 to choose your vehicle type
  • Click on ‘Number of passengers’ and select the people you want to put in your car
  • Click on ‘Seating of passengers’ and drag and drop your passengers into your chosen vehicle
  • Click ‘Safety of passengers’ and decide whether your passengers will belt up or not – click to highlight either the image with a seatbelt, or without
  • On ‘Speed of vehicle’, drag the speedometer to select your car’s speed
  • Select ‘Crash simulation’ and watch as your choices are run in the simulation
  • Now click on the people in the white outline image of the car – see what happened to each passenger
  • Drag the arrows at the top and bottom of the simulation screen to see an alternative outcome