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.
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.