Duke of Edinburgh seatbelt incident: ‘The law applies to everyone’
British Safety Council issues reminder about the importance of seatbelts, following recent events involving the Duke of Edinburgh.
After more than 20 years of tireless campaigning by the British Safety Council, wearing a seatbelt whist driving became a legal requirement in 1983. According to data from the Department for Transport, seatbelts help to save around 2,000 lives every year.
Yet, following recent events involving the Duke of Edinburgh, it seems the message still needs reiterating. Prince Philip was photographed driving without a seatbelt, just hours after being involved in a car accident.
James Tye, the charismatic and often controversial Founder of the British Safety Council, advocated the use of publicity to drive safer behaviours. He regularly involved celebrities like Barbara Windsor, Cliff Richard and Stirling Moss in his campaigns. One such campaign saw the painting of white crosses on cars with many dents (as evidence of careless driving). Tye produced one of the first reports on the need for seat belt laws in 1959.
The law applies to everyone
James Tye passed away in 1996, but there is little doubt that he would have been at the forefront of those highlighting that the law applies to everyone and that flouting it is a poor example to set. For instance, he didn’t hesitate to berate the Queen for not wearing a helmet while riding and reprimanded Princess Anne and Prince Charles for driving their children without wearing seatbelts.
Matthew Holder, Head of Campaigns at the British Safety Council, said: “The times when critics of the seatbelt regulations accused the government of operating a nanny state and limiting their personal freedom and comfort are long gone. Thirty years of statistical evidence supported by testimonies of people who survived horrific car accidents and lived to tell the tale should be the ultimate proof that the seat belt laws were introduced to save people’s lives.”
Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, said: “Before the disaster occurs, health and safety is seen as ‘a burden, a nuisance, a bureaucratic, horrible thing that I’ve got to work through’. Once the disaster has occurred, everyone says ‘someone should have done something to stop this happening’.
“Last week’s incident, involving a senior member of the Royal family, proves that point. The fine of up to £500 for not wearing a seat belt was introduced as a deterrent for reckless drivers but it clearly does not influence the behaviours of all road users. People in a position of public influence who flout the law send the wrong message to the rest of us. We should not underestimate the potential human cost of such behaviour.”
Driving for work
Driving for work is the most dangerous activity most employees ever undertake, making driver safety a vital consideration for businesses. Employees who drive on business are more likely to be killed at work than those employed as deep-sea divers or coal miners.
There are hundreds of thousands of injuries on the roads every year and literally millions of collisions that result in expensive damage to vehicles and property. According to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT), around a third of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who was driving as part of their work at the time and almost all are avoidable.
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With employees who drive for business more likely to be killed at work than deep sea divers or coal miners, driver safety is a vital business consideration.
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