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MORE than 50,000 lives have been saved since seat belts became compulsory by law 30 years ago today.

On January 31, 1983, legislation was passed making it mandatory for all UK drivers and front seat passengers to belt up.

This has led to a significant drop in the number of road traffic accident fatalities and serious injuries.

Belting up is now second nature to most people when they get in a vehicle, but it took many years of campaigning to get the first law on the statute books.

The case for changing the legislation was first discussed in Parliament in 1973, but it took until 1981 before the UK Transport Bill was amended to introduce seat belt wearing for a trial period of three years.

Then, on January 31, 1983, the law on seat belt wearing for drivers and front seat passengers came into force.

And in 1991, wearing a seat belt in the back of a car became compulsory.

Now motoring experts are predicting that completely crash-proof cars will be developed by 2020.

Cars that drive themselves and use state-of-the-art technology to avoid collisions could be on British roads in less than eight years, they say.