On 30 June and 1 July Oxford Brookes University is holding a History of Road Safety Symposium (http://ah.brookes.ac.uk/conference/history_of_road_safety_symposium). History, as they say, is written by the victors.
The concluding speaker is Rob Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. The title of his presentation is “How parliament came to love seat belts.”
PACTS offers historians this view of its victory in securing Parliament’s love of seat belts, which culminated in the passage of the law (on its website at http://www.pacts.org.uk/newsletters.php?id=2).
“DfT Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the introduction of seatbelts
On the 31st January 2008, the 25th anniversary of the law change which made front seatbelt wearing compulsory was celebrated. PACTS itself was set up by Barry Sheerman MP as part of the fight to get mandatory seatbelt wearing turned into legislation. Eight years later it became compulsory for all backseat passengers to use seatbelts and it is estimated that since the introduction of the first law change in 1983, seatbelts have prevented 60,000 deaths and over 670,000 serious injuries.”
I have been challenging the PACTS view of seat belt history since before it was history – http://john-adams.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2006/SAE%20seatbelts.pdf – but to no avail.
My interest was re-stimulated by the absurd claims made by PACTS in celebration of the 25th anniversary of its achievement. I have challenged the claim in a number of blogs about seat belts on my website – http://www.john-adams.co.uk/category/seat-belts/ – including four open letters to the Executive Director of PACTS.
A “History of Road Safety Symposium” is an excellent idea and the programme includes some excellent contributors. It is a great pity that it will be undermined by giving the final slot to a celebration – unopposed – of the discredited seat-belt law.