It’s 30 years to the day that the wearing of front seatbelts became compulsory in Britain. If you were caught without one, and didn't have a valid reason, you faced a maximum fine of £50, although in the early days it was more normal for a £10 punishment to be issued.
The issue of Autocar dated 29 January 1983 looked at the topic in detail, and declared that ‘commonsense had prevailed’ when it came to the new law.
However, the article also noted that as much as one third of drivers had an objection to belting up, with many disagreeing with the concept of being compelled to use them.
The article features comments from motorists which, with the benefit of three decades of hindsight, offer fascinating insights into attitudes towards driving in 1983.
“I don’t like them at all, and I never wear them. I don’t know what I’m going to do at the end of January. Most probably I’ll try to wear them – I don’t want a £50 fine. But they make me very restless and when I’m wearing one I keep thinking about that flaming belt instead of concentrating on driving. That can’t be safe.” Mrs Doris Chitty, Banstead
“I actually put it on going home last night. I always wear them on a long journey, but never on a short one. I expect I’ll wear them when the law comes in.” Graham Luckhurst, Marks Tey
“I’m not convinced that seatbelts are a good thing, but I don’t mind wearing one. One time I would never wear a belt is if I got pregnant again. The belt is very uncomfortable passing across your stomach and having it pressing against your bladder is no joke.” Mrs Onslow, Cheam
“I have never worn a belt in my life. I’ve never thought about it. I suppose I will have to start wearing them now, although I don’t know how the police are going to catch you." Mr Mothersole, Croydon
“I never wear a seatbelt because I find them so uncomfortable. If I could find one that was comfortable I wouldn’t mind having to wear them from the end of January. But I don’t suppose I’ll be able to get away with not wearing one.” Mrs Hilary Plummer, Epsom
“I’d only wear them on a motorway. I work as a van driver up in the City and West End, and I’m in and out of the van every five to ten minutes. If it’s the law, I suppose I’ve got to wear them, but I don’t know if I will. The belts in the van are a pain in the neck.” Phillip Hutton, North Cheam