The Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit works to reduce road casualties, but we recognise that crashes will happen. When they do, the best we can hope for is that the consequences are minor.

Many circumstances can combine to make the difference between a "shunt" and a crash resulting in serious injury, though there is one simple action guaranteed to make a difference; wearing your seat belt.

The law has made wearing of seat belts compulsory for more than 30 years now. If you look at a graph of fatal crashes year-on-year over that period, you will see a very obvious downturn from the early 1980s onwards. Obviously other factors played a part, but it is no coincidence the decline in fatalities increased with the seat belt law.


In a crash, an airbag will only be of significant help if it is used in conjunction with a seat belt. If you are sitting too close to the airbag when it opens, it is possible that it may do more harm than good. Use the seat and seat belt as it is intended - and you should be well protected.

In the back

Seat belts must be work in the front and back of your vehicle. An adult who is not wearing a seat belt will be equivalent in weight to a small elephant as he or she flies through the air when the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop. It's a frightening thought.

Pretending to wear a seat belt

Even though it has been the law for so long, some people still don't like wearing a seat belt because they find it uncomfortable. It's not unusual for us to see people draping an unfastened belt over their lap. Much, much worse is wearing the belt under their arm, which can actually be deadly.

A three point seat belt worn correctly is designed to distribute the energy of a crash through some of the strongest bones in the body, notably the collar bone. Worn under the arm, however, that energy is borne by the rib-cage and is likely to break ribs and pierce major internal organs. Belt up properly.

The law on seat belts

The law for cars, vans and other goods vehicles is summarised in this table:

The law surrounding seat belts
Person Front seat Back seat Who is responsible
Driver  Seat belt must be worn if fitted   Driver 
Child up to three years of age Correct child restraint must be used The correct child restraint must be used. If one is not available in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle, the child may travel unrestrained. Driver 
Child from third birthday up to 135cms in height (approx 4'5") or 12th birthday, whichever is reached first Correct child restraint must be used Where seat belts are fitted, the correct child restraint must be used. Driver 
    The child must use an adult belt in the back seat if the correct child restraint is not available either:  
    In a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle.  
    For a short distance In an unexpected necessity.  
    If two occupied child restraints prevent fitting of a third.  
    A child three years and over may travel unrestrained in the back seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not fitted in the rear.  
Child 12 or 13, or over 135 cms (approx 4' 5") in height Seat belt must be used if fitted Seat belt must be used if fitted Driver 
Passengers aged 14 years and over Seat belt must be worn if fitted Seat belt must be worn if fitted Passenger

Child car seats

All children must be restrained properly according to their age and height when travelling by car.

Did you know that you shouldn't put a rearward-facing baby seat in the front of your vehicle if there is an airbag?

For more useful advice, visit the following external websites. They provide excellent information on selecting and fitting the correct seats.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

THINK! road safety

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.