In this page we will:

  • Share how best to protect yourself, and children, when travelling in a car
  • Give you advice on what equipment to wear, to help you be safe, if you're riding a motorcycle or bicycle

This is step 6 of the Brake Roadmap to safe and healthy journeys, in partnership with Direct Line and Green Flag, helping you to learn about, and make, safe and healthy journey choices.

Strapping yourself and others in before a journey, and wearing the right protective gear, are simple steps to minimise the chance of death and injury in a crash.

Staying protected in a car

Seat belts Down arrow icon to open accordion

Seat belts are simple to put on and can save your life. They stop you being thrown around the vehicle, or out of it, in a crash. It's estimated by transport researchers that a three-point seat belt halves risk of death in a crash.

Always wear a seat belt, even on short journeys. Even if you're just driving around the corner, it could still be a life-saver, and it's still the law.

Make sure you have enough three-point seat belts for everyone travelling in your vehicle. Never squeeze extra people in without belts, or sharing the same belt.

Before setting off, make it a habit to check that everyone in your vehicle is belted up. Seat belt use is lower among back seat passengers. An unrestrained back seat passenger is a danger to other people in the vehicle as well as themselves.

Three-point belts are far safer than lap belts (which only have one strap going across your lap). The shoulder strap on a three-point belt stops your body being flung forward in a crash, which can result in horrific injuries. If you use an older vehicle with a lap belt in a particular seat, don't use that seat.

Wearing a seat belt during pregnancy Down arrow icon to open accordion

It’s important to continue wearing a seatbelt while pregnant. You should wear the lap part of the seat belt under your bump (see our diagram, right). Consider public transport when you can. You are far less likely to be involved in a crash on a train or bus. Walking is also a great exercise during pregnancy; leave the car at home for short journeys.

Head restraints Down arrow icon to open accordion

Make sure everyone's heads and necks are protected by a head restraint. If a head restraint is missing, wobbly, or too low, it won’t protect someone's neck from whiplash injuries that can debilitate or kill. If a seat does not have a head restraint, don't use that seat.

Head restraints should be adjusted so the top is about level with the top of the person's head and right up against the back of their head, so their head won’t be able to fly backwards in a crash.

Before setting off, make it a habit to check everyone has their head restraint properly adjusted.

Protecting children Down arrow icon to open accordion

Always use a modern baby or child seat suitable for your child’s size and weight. Buy one with the United Nations E mark or BS Kitemark and never use one that is second-hand.

Rear-facing seats are safer for babies. Do not move them up to their next child seat until they are too tall or heavy for their rear-facing baby seat.

Keep using a child seat appropriate for your child’s size until they’re 150cm tall, even if your child complains they are “too old” to have one. Help your child to understand that their seat is special – it helps keep them safe.

Child seats that have backs and sides, and are correct for your child’s height and weight, are safer than booster cushions. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to develop booster cushions or backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg.

For any older children above 125cm and 22kg who are using only booster cushions, it’s important to remember that head restraints on car seats used by those children, and any other vehicle occupants including you, should be adjusted so the top is about level with the top of the head and right up against the back of their head, so the head won’t be able to fly backwards in a crash. If a head restraint is missing, wobbly, or too low, it won’t protect the neck from potentially debilitating or fatal whiplash injuries.

Fit and sit right. Follow the fitting instructions exactly for any child seat. If possible, fit the seat in the middle of the back of your car. On every journey, always check that all children in your car are correctly restrained before setting off, and children know the importance of not fiddling with their straps or undoing them during the journey.

Essentially, your child must have good protection behind their head and neck, and their child restraint straps (or, for older children, their seat belt), must be correctly threaded and fit correctly and snugly across their shoulders and pelvis.

Never do any of these things:

  • Never hold a child in your arms in a vehicle. The child would be likely to fly out of your arms in a crash.
  • Never use one adult seat belt to restrain both you and a child. The child would be crushed by your body in a crash.
  • Never use one seat belt to restrain more than one person.
  • Never carry someone else’s child in your vehicle if you do not have a child restraint appropriate for their size and weight.
  • Never allow someone to travel unrestrained.

Staying protected when riding

Motorcyclists Down arrow icon to open accordion

Wearing high-quality protective clothing, particularly when fitted with body armour, reduces the risk and severity of crash-related injury and hospitalisation. Before buying protective gear, check out the latest reviews, and buy the best that you can afford from a dealer you can trust. Find out the law about motorcycle helmets and gear here.


Helmets save lives, prevent or reduce the severity of brain and facial injuries, and protect your eyes from wind, dust, insects or flying gravel.

The Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) has tested hundreds of helmet models, rating each one according to how much protection it offers. You can use their website to find a helmet within your budget that meets high safety standards.

Do not buy a second-hand helmet. Buy your helmet from a reputable dealer, and make sure you try it on beforehand. A properly-fitting helmet is essential and dramatically increases your chances of surviving a crash. The SHARP programme also offers life-saving guidance on choosing the best helmet fit.

If you drop your helmet, replace it immediately even if it looks ok.


Protective clothing helps save your skin and helps keep you warm and dry every time you ride. Clothing should:

  • be made of good-quality leather, or a high-performance textile alternative, with good-quality seams and as few seams as possible. Ask your retailer for details of which safety standards they meet before buying, and whether the safety rating applies to the whole garment or just the body armour;
  • be fitted with body armour on the back, shoulders, elbows, knees and shins;
  • fit properly; it should be snug but with enough room for layers of warm clothing underneath and so your movement is not restricted; and
  • be fluorescent during the day and reflective at night to help other drivers spot you.

Make sure you combine your protective suit with strong, flexible, waterproof gloves and biker boots, made either of leather or a high-performance textile alternative, to offer you the best protection if you come off your bike. Gloves should cover high enough up your arms that they do not come off in a crash. Both gloves and boots should fit comfortably and snugly, allowing you to grip the handlebars properly and operate the controls easily.

Cyclists Down arrow icon to open accordion

Wear a helmet

Brake strongly advises cyclists of all ages and levels of experience to wear a helmet. A helmet won’t offer you complete protection, and sadly helmets don’t prevent crashes happening in the first place – that's why Brake campaigns for safer streets and safer driving. However, wearing a good quality, well-fitted cycle helmet does help to protect your brain in some types of crashes or if you fall off your bike and hit your head. Research shows that wearing one reduces your chances of suffering fatal or serious brain injuries in a crash. If you wear a helmet, always make sure you fit it according to the instructions and ensure it isn’t damaged.

Prepare your bike

It’s worthwhile learning the basics of bicycle maintenance if you want to begin cycling. This basic maintenance guide from the BBC is a good starting point. Whether your bike is new, second hand, or it’s been sat in your garage gathering dust, give it a thorough check before you start using it. Familiarising yourself with the mechanics will come in handy if you run into a problem while out cycling. For more in depth information on keeping your bike in good shape, see Bicycling’s maintenance guide.

Remember, it is illegal to cycle at night without lights, so if you are making a bicycle journey in the dark, or there is any chance you might be caught out as the sun goes down, test your lights before setting off. You must have a white light at the front, a red light at the back, red reflectors at the back and amber reflectors on the pedals.

Did you know that, in a crash, you are
twice as likely
to die, if you're not wearing a seat belt?