31/01/2013 08:30 GMT

Thirty Years On From Compulsory Seatbelts, What's Next In Car Safety? (VIDEO)

It's 30 years to the day since British drivers were ordered to 'belt up' as the government made efforts to reduce the number of injuries and deaths on the roads.

At the time, the Department of Transport said that 30,000 people were either killed or seriously injured in road accidents every year.

Seatbelts are credited with saving thousands of lives since they became compulsory

Seatbelts are estimated to save around 2,000 lives each year, making them an essential part of road safety, even more so after passengers were also ordered to buckle up in 1991.

"Thousands of lives have been saved and countless injuries prevented over the years because drivers and passengers were wearing seatbelts," said road safety minister, Stephen Hammond.

"The combination of effective enforcement and hard-hitting public awareness campaigns mean that, 30 years on, the vast majority of drivers and passengers buckle up when they get in their cars.

"But, unbelievably, there are still some people who do not use a seatbelt - my message to them is simple: a seatbelt could save your life and not wearing one is just not worth the risk."

Since the three-point seatbelt was introduced 50 years ago, driver safety has continually improved to the extent that Volvo, the company that invented the seatbelt, is confident that there could be crash-proof cars on the roads within seven years.

Features such as City Safety - a system that uses sensors to warn the driver of an impending frontal collision before performing an emergency stop on the driver's behalf - are already standard in the Swedish company's V40 range but new research is looking at safety technology such as pedestrian detection, which identifies and judges whether a person is about to step onto the road.

Transport secretary of state David Howells announced the compulsory wearing of seat belts for drivers and front-seat passengers in 1981

Other innovations could allow drivers to become passengers by handing the steering wheel to the auto-pilot and travelling in convoy. Called Platooning, cars are 'electronically tethered' to each other and guided by a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver.

Each vehicle in the platoon measures the distance, speed and direction of the vehicle directly in front, adjusting its movements to stay in formation. Early trials of the technology have already taken place in Spain.

According to Volvo, a survey suggests that over a quarter of drivers like the idea of a car that drives itself and more than half would be happy to be driven by autopilot. Forty five per cent said they'd like to see pedestrian protection technology.

Volvo is leading the way here by introducing the World's first pedestrian airbag. Half of those taking part in the survey also said they'd like to see all round cameras fitted to their cars.

See more on car safety in the video below