An accident is reported in which a car travelling at about 15 mile/h stopped suddenly and a child's head went through the windscreen because she was not wearing a seat belt. The correspondent suggests that seat belts often seem unnecessary while driving slowly, and presents statistics to show that in the UK as a whole (without legislation) only 32.4 per cent of drivers and 35.4 per cent of front-seat passengers wear belts, with some 47 per cent of drivers on motorways. But some, though not all, of the 23 countries with legislation have achieved wearing rates of 80-90 per cent or more. The arguments for and against enforcement are presented, and it is suggested that with every year that passes some 600 people die and over 11000 receive serious injuries unnecessarily. the question "can seat belts be a disadvantage' is answered by reference to a recent survey which considered that although such cases could be imagined, they must be rare as none of the sample of 2879 occupants in the survey would have fared better without a belt. The conclusion from such surveys is that seat belts significantly reduce all but minor injuries. Outstanding problems related to better seat belts, rear-seat belts, children being exposed to unnecessary danger, exemptions on medical grounds and the use of passive restraints and automatic seat belts are discussed. It is suggested that the car must be viewed as a total safety package for the occupant, leading to the need for better knowledge of the mechanics of collisions and the biomechanics of injury to guide design. /TRRL/

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    British Medical Association

    BMA House, Tavistock Square
    London WC1H 9JR,   United Kingdom 
  • Publication Date: 1978-12-16

Media Info

  • Features: Photos; References;
  • Pagination: p. 1695-98
  • Serial:
    • BMJ
    • Volume: 2
    • Issue Number: 6153
    • Publisher: British Medical Association
    • ISSN: 0959-8138
    • Serial URL:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00194443
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Files: ITRD, TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 11 1979 12:00AM