Save our seatbelts from the sunset clause, says RoSPA

  • Today marks the 40th anniversary of the mandatory seatbelt law which was spearheaded by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
  • Research shows that a quarter of people in vehicles who died in road accidents in 2021 were not wearing a seatbelt
  • The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 threatens vital lifesaving legislation and looks to sunset them before December 31 this year.


On the fortieth anniversary of mandatory seatbelt usage, a leading accident prevention charity has issued a rally cry to Government to save seatbelt laws from being lost or watered down as part of the the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022.


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), that spearheaded the campaign for mandatory seatbelt use over forty years ago, warns that thousands of lives are at risk if the Bill goes ahead.


The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 will see thousands of laws sunset by the end of this year, including lifesaving seatbelt legislation. Although seatbelt usage features in the Road Safety Act, the Bill is set to make critical information on who, where and when people should wear seatbelts unclear.


Statistics show that almost a quarter of people in a vehicle killed in a road collision in 2021 were not wearing a seatbelt. While the number of people killed on Britain’s roads has plateaued, the proportion of car occupants killed while not wearing a seatbelt has spiked sharply, reaching the highest level since records began.


About seatbelt law

  • The law requiring all drivers to wear their seatbelts came in to force 40 years ago today (31 January 2023) – 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.
  • Seatbelt law is under risk in the Government’s EU Retained Law Bill that is set to sunset thousands of laws by the end of this year.

Facts and stats

About The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) RoSPA is a not-for-profit organisation that has worked for more than 100 years to help people recognise and reduce their risk of accidents, at home, on the road, at work and at leisure. Our goal is to enable everyone to live their lives to the full, safely. For further information on RoSPA and its history, please see here.


Seatbelts made the news last month when Rishi Sunak was caught on video travelling in a moving vehicle while not wearing a seatbelt and was subsequently issued a fixed penalty notice.


Nathan Davies, Head of Policy at RoSPA, said:


“Wearing a seatbelt is not just ‘common sense’. Making seatbelts a legal requirement changed behaviour, and drove up usage by 55 per cent almost immediately. But recent Department for Transport data shows us that compliance is the lowest it has ever been since the law was introduced, and that means that people still need laws which reinforce the importance for them and the other occupants of vehicles. By removing seatbelt laws, we expect usage to fall, and fatalities will then inevitably increase.


“Throwing vital seatbelt laws in the air at a time they are most needed will set the stage for thousands of the public being killed and injured on the road, leaving behind loved ones, friends and family. We must not throw away the progress made over last 40 years of mandatory seatbelt usage and urge the Government to tackle these vital laws with the time, respect and attention they deserve.”


The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 will have a second reading in the Lords on the 6 February.

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