An internal paper of the British Department of Transport found that: (Adams p 120)

"Available data from eight Western European countries which introduced a seat belt law between 1973 and 1976 suggests that it has not led to a detectable change in Road Deaths"
The United Kingdom enacted seat belt legislation in 1983.  Data on those killed and seriously injured in 1982 was compared with similar data from 1983 and analyzed by structural time series modeling.  The results showed a 20% drop in driver fatalities, although pedestrian fatalities increased significantly.

The importance that has been attached to this study can be obtained from the comments of Evans at p278:

.. the highest precision evaluation is for the UK's law, where belt use rose rapidly from 40% to 90% in a large population of affected occupants.  The law reduced fatalities to drivers and front seat passengers by 20%.  For smaller use rate increases, and for smaller populations (that is, in nearly all other cases), it is not possible to directly measure fatality changes.
Adams et al have challenged H&D on the issue of the definition of "seriously injured".  They also maintain that there is recent evidence that :
  1. Evidential random breath testing was introduced during the time period of the test.
  2. Unprecedented numbers of breath tests were administered.
  3. The decrease in road deaths between 10 PM and AM was 23%, while in the other hours it was only 3%, in line with the prevailing world trend.
In their response to Adams criticism, Harvey and Durbin disagreed that there was a problem with the definition of "seriously injured".  Harvey and Durbin admitted that they had not made any allowance for the effect of random breath testing.

Harvey and Durbin found a huge increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.  Adams derived pedestrian fatalities as increasing by 20% and cyclist fatalities by 40%.

Conclusion.  This landmark test that should have established that lives were saved by seat belts has been shown to be based on fatally misleading omissions.

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