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20 years of belting up

Today is the 20th anniversary of compulsory seat belt use in the UK – and a “road safety milestone” says the SMMT, which is staging a special exhibition to mark the occasion.

It was on 31 January 1983 when legislation came into force making drivers and front seat passengers belt up on every journey.

Manufacturers had been fitting seat belts to new models since 1967, but it took another 16 years for the law to be passed making us use them. Throughout the 1970s, campaigns tried to get us to use seat belts voluntarily – including Sir Jimmy Saville's “Clunk Click, every trip” campaign.

To celebrate today's anniversary, an exhibition featuring displays of state-of-the-art cars, commercial vehicles and components is being held at SMMT's central London offices. The event is hosted jointly by SMMT and the safety partnership RoadSafe and is expected to attract more than 200 road safety professionals, government officials and representatives of safety organisations.

SMMT Chief Executive Christopher Macgowan says: “Today is a significant milestone in road safety history. Seat belts have prevented thousands of casualties in the last thirty years and will continue to do so in the future.

“New vehicles in the 21st century are kitted out with a myriad life saving and damage limiting features but roads still account for an unacceptable number of casualties. So perhaps today is a good opportunity to remind all motorists to take one of the most important steps to protect themselves and clunk-click, even on the shortest trip.”

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