Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and a pop star called Taylor Swift was born – later naming an album after the year of her birth.
We’re talking 1989 of course, when it became a legal requirement in the U.K. for children travelling in the rear seats of cars to wear a seatbelt.
A couple of years later, the law was extended to adults. But according to a new survey that we have commissioned, decades on many of us are still not buckling up in the back.
In fact, one-in-three people in Europe admit to breaking the law on rear seatbelts.
The consequences? Well, here in the U.K. there is a maximum £500 fine – though the outcome could be much worse. The European Transport Safety Council estimates that in 2012 alone, across the European Union, 8,600 deaths in cars were prevented by the wearing of seatbelts.
The survey of more than 7,000 people across Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain, and the U.K., showed that those in Romania were the most likely to travel in the rear without a seatbelt, then Italy, and Spain.
In the U.K., one in six admit taking the risk. The worst offenders were the over-40s, perhaps because they didn’t grow up having to buckle up in the back. And just in case you were wondering, the law for those in the front seats was introduced as far back as 1981.
“Learning to drive is not something which stops when you have passed your driving test,” said Jim Graham, from Ford Driving Skills for Life, which has provided training to more than half a million young people globally since first being launched in the U.S.,12 years ago. “Wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between life and death, whether you are sitting in the front seat or the rear seats, whatever age you are.”
The new Mondeo introduced to Europe the Inflatable Rear Seatbelt, which combines the attributes of an airbag and a seatbelt. Now available on Mondeo, this is designed to enhance protection for those in the back. During a crash, the belt helps distribute crash forces across more of a passenger’s torso than a conventional restraint – up to five times more.
Our research shows more than 90 per cent of those who wore the belts in tests considered them to be similar to, or more comfortable than, a regular seatbelt – because they found the inflatable version padded and softer. And as far as not wearing seatbelts goes, we are also highlighting the risks as part of Driving Skills for Life.
“The importance of wearing seatbelts cannot be over-emphasised,” Graham said. “Potentially life-saving technologies as the Inflatable Rear Seatbelt are only effective if they’re worn.”