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Car safety

Electronic braking systems

Electronic braking systems reduce the response and build-up times in brake cylinders.

This in turn reduces braking distance by several metres, which can be decisive in some situations. The integrated ABS function ensures driving stability and steerability throughout the braking procedure.

Tyre safety

In Great Britain in 2021, 12 people were killed and 111 people were seriously injured in collisions where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were deemed to be a contributory factor to the collision. 491 people were injured in total.

Tyres are the vehicle's only point of contact with the road. The actual area of contact is small, roughly equivalent to four size eight men's shoes. Bald tyres - 'slicks' - may be fine for a race car on a dry track, but no good at all for road vehicles on a wet road surface. Tyres treads are designed to pump water from the road surface and provide maximum grip. By the time the tread is worn down to the legal limit they will be unable to perform this task efficiently and must be replaced.

RoSPA recommends that worn tyres are replaced with an equivalent new unit well before the legal minimum tread limit of 1.6mm is reached - ideally as soon as they reach 3mm.

Vehicle lighting

In order to make vehicle lighting more efficient and to minimise the chances of the driver forgetting to switch on lights, manufacturers have been introducing new technologies which are designed to make vehicles safer and reduce the likelihood of dazzle to oncoming drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

This factsheet looks at the lights most commonly used: Xenon, Halogen (HID) and LED, the lighting regulations they must conform to, and the technical systems such as Daylight Running Lights and Adaptive Lighting Systems.


Head restraints

A head restraint is designed to limit the movement of the head and provide support in a collision.

A properly adjusted head restraint will help to protect you against whiplash, and potentially save you from a long-term injury. Always ensure your head restraint is adjusted properly, as either a driver or a passenger.


Seat belts have proved to be very effective in reducing such casualties. However, in frontal collisions, car occupants are still injured by being thrown onto unpadded parts of the car interior such as the steering wheel and the dashboard. Therefore, in recent years, airbags have been introduced to provide further protection.

However it must always be remembered that air bags are an addition rather than an alternative to seat belts. The study by Simon Barry et al makes it clear that seat belts are not only cheaper and less prone to negative effects than airbags. They are also more effective in frontal collisions and in a wide range of other crashes where an airbag is ineffective.

Seat belts

Seatbelts are designed to retain people in their seats, and so prevent or reduce injuries suffered in a crash. They ensure that as little contact is made between the occupant and vehicle interior as possible and significantly reduce the risk of being thrown from a vehicle.

Seatbelts are designed to work as the key part of wider injury prevention measures and safety systems, such as airbags and head restraints, which will not be as effective in reducing the risk of injury if an occupant is not wearing a seat belt.

Seat belt law at-a-glance

  Front Seats Rear Seats Who is responsible?


Seat belt must be worn if fitted



Child up to 3 Years of Age

Correct child restraint must be used

Correct child restraint must be used

If one is not available in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle, the child may travel unrestrained.


Child Aged 3 To 11 and Under 135cm in height (about 4.5 Feet)

Correct child restraint must be used

Correct child restraint must be used if seat belts are fitted

If a child seat is not available, a child may travel using just the seat belt in these situations:

  • In a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle
  • For a short distance if the journey is unexpected and necessary
  • There isn't room to fit a third child seat


Child Aged 12 or 13 years or Younger Child 135cm or taller

Adult seat belt must be worn if fitted

Adult seat belt must be worn if fitted


Passengers aged 14 years and over

Seatbelt must be worn if fitted

Seatbelt must be worn if fitted


A head rest in a car
Seat belts

General advice and information about seat belts

A head rest in a car
The history of seat belts

A timeline showing the history of seat belts and milestones along the way

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