Seat belt usage in the United Kingdom has been compulsory since 1983, and there are strict penalties for not wearing one.
Despite this, a significant minority of people still do not use seat belts, which can lead to serious injuries or even death in an accident.
We conducted a study using a survey of 1,146 people in the UK better to understand seat belt usage rates and attitudes towards safety. Our findings are set out below.
UK Seat Belts Usage Statistics 2022 – Key Findings
- The majority of people (82%) report always having the seat belt put on when they are in the car.
- 10.9% of people cannot remember whether they had the seat belt on the last time they were in a car.
- 7% of people report not having the seat belt put on the last time they were in the car.
- The age group most likely to always have the seat belt on is the 65+ age group (92.3%).
- The age group most likely to not remember using OR not using the seat belt is the 35-44 age group (15.8%).
- The age group most likely to not have the seat belt put on is the 25-34 age group (13.5%).
Seat Belt Deaths Per Year
Around 490 people are killed in the UK each year due to not wearing a seat belt.
This means that around 25% of drivers and passengers killed in crashes on British roads are not wearing seat belts.
The same leads to around 22,000 serious injuries each year. (Source: https://www.think.gov.uk/)
How many people were saved by seat belts in 2020?
In 2020, seat belts saved an estimated 1,732 lives in the UK.
This is based on an analysis of data from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Reported Road Casualties Great Britain annual report.
The DfT estimates that, in 2020, seat belts prevented around 10,700 serious injuries.
In general, women are more likely to have their seat belts on than men
As expected, the results varied depending on gender,
with 78.4% of males and 85.6% of females reporting that they had their seatbelts on.
Overall, females were 3.9% more likely to say they used their seatbelts than males.
Self-Reported Seat Belt Use Among Different Age Groups
We can make the following from the above results:
- Most people aged 65 and over reported wearing a seat belt (92.3%).
- 82.4% of people aged 45-54 reported using a seat belt.
- 86.2% of people in the age bracket 55-64 reported using a seat belt.
- People aged 35-44 and 25-34 reported using the seat belt almost identically (75.4% and 76.5%).
- The largest group who reported using the seat belt were in the 25-34 age group (81.3%).
Age Groups with The Least Seat Belt Use
The age groups that reported not having the seat belt put on the most were 25-34 and 35-44.
For the 18-24 age group, the breakdown by gender for the answer “No” was as follows:
- Males – 0%
- Females – 3.8%
For the 25-34 age group, the breakdown by gender for the answer “No” was as follows:
- Males – 18.6%
- Females – 7.4%.
For the 35-44 age group, the breakdown by gender for the answer “No” was as follows:
- Males – 13.0%
- Females – 7.3%.
The above results indicate that males are more likely than females to not wear seat belts when driving, especially in the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups. Also, the data suggest that seat belt usage is generally lower for these two age groups.
The “Don’t Remember” Category
In general, the largest amount of “don’t remember” answers befell the 35-44 age group, with 15.8% of respondents in this age group giving this answer.
Upon tweaking by gender, the “don’t remember” answers were more common among males in the 25-34 age group (18.6%) and females in the 35-44 age group (17.1%).
Importance of Seatbelts: Seat Belt Deaths Statistics
The Department for Transport (DfT) reports that:
- In 2017 there were 1,780 casualties of all severities in crashes where drivers and riders were not wearing seatbelts.
- This is equivalent to around 5% of all the people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on Britain’s roads that year.
- If everyone wore a seatbelt, around 230 of these people could have been saved.
Is there a lack of seat belt usage in the UK?
Overall, the survey results suggest that people in the UK are not using seat belts as much as they should be.
This is particularly true for males in the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups.
It is also worth noting that the “don’t remember” group was dominated by females in the 35-44 age group.
This indicates that there is a need for more education on the importance of seat belts, especially for young males and middle-aged females.
How does our data compare to official data sources?
The official data from the DfT suggests that around 5% of all KSI on Britain’s roads are caused by people not wearing seatbelts.
Our data indicate that 18.6% of males in the 25-34 age group do not use seat belts.
This is 3.7 times higher than the official data.
For females in the 35-44 age group, our data shows that 17.1% do not use seat belts.
This is 3.4 times higher than the official data.
While our data is not representative of the entire population of the UK, it does suggest that the problem of people not wearing seat belts is worse than the official data suggests.
This study was conducted using a survey of 1,146 people in the UK.
The respondents were asked the following question: “Did you have the seat belt put on the last time you were in the car?”
The respondents were then asked to select one of the following answers:
- Don’t Remember
The data was then analyzed by age group and gender.