Seatbelts are fitted in cars as a way to protect you and any other passengers from harm if the vehicle is involved in an accident. The rules on seatbelts differ depending on whether the person is a child, or an adult, and in some cases special exceptions to wearing a seatbelt may apply.
The responsibility for children wearing a seatbelt lies with the driver of the vehicle.
Children under 3 years old
Children under three years must use an appropriate child restraint in all cars, vans and goods vehicles.
The only exception is in the rear of a taxi.
Children between the age of 3 and 12 (or up to 135cm in height)
The same rules apply as with children under three, however there are some exceptions where adult belts can be worn:
- In a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle.
- For an unexpected necessary journey of a short distance.
- If there are two occupied child restraints fitted (which prevent the fitting of a third.)
Children between the age of 12 and 14 (or over 135cm in height)
Children in this category are subject to the same rules as adults - they must wear a seatbelt while travelling in the front or the rear, where a seatbelt is available.
The difference is that it remains the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are wearing a seatbelt.
All persons from the age of 14 upwards must wear a seatbelt whilst travelling in the front or rear of a vehicle.
It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they are wearing a seatbelt. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
There are certain situations where an adult doesn't need to wear a seatbelt:
- If no seatbelts are fitted in a car that does not require seatbelts to be fitted in the front and/or rear.
- If they are reversing or supervising a learner who is reversing.
- If they are driving a goods vehicle which is making local deliveries that are no more than 50m between each stop.
- If they are a licensed taxi driver on duty.
- If they have a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seatbelt Wearing’ from their doctor that excuses them on medical grounds.
Minibuses and Coaches
Minibuses or coaches carrying a group of three or more children must be fitted with front facing seats, with at least a lap belt for every child between the ages of 3 and 16.
- The driver of the coach or minibus is responsible for ensuring that the law is complied with and that children are wearing the provided seatbelts.
- Adult passengers must use seatbelts where they have been fitted.
- From October 2011, it has been compulsory to fit seatbelts to all new trucks for the driver and any front facing passengers.
- Where seatbelts have been fitted, the normal rules apply.