Seat Belts and Their Laws


Gone are the days where you’d try to fit 10 people in a 5-seater car. No more sitting on laps or in footwells. Not that you were ever allowed to, but it’s more frowned upon these days.

Seatbelt laws have changed over the years to ensure the safety of all passengers.

Since 1972, it was compulsory for all new vehicles to come with front seatbelts fitted, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the actual wearing of the seatbelts became compulsory. Rear seat belts became compulsory fittings in 1986 but again, the actual wearing became compulsory in 1991. It has never been a legal requirement for vehicles registered before these dates to have seat belts fitted.

Who Must Wear a Seat Belt?

You MUST wear a seat belt if one is fitted in the seat your using, but there are some exceptions.

You’re only allowed 1 person in each seat fitted with a seat belt (there goes the family day out all packed into 1 car).

The regulations for child safety have changed quite a lot since the introduction of seat belts.

Currently, a child is required to be in a car seat suited for their height and weight until they reach 135cm tall or their 12th birthday, whichever comes first.

With any child passengers in the car, whilst they are under the age of 14, it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are wearing a seatbelt. From the age of 14, it is then the Childs responsibility.

Wearing a Seat Belt Whilst Pregnant

You MUST wear a seat belt when pregnant unless your doctor advised differently due to medical reason. A document from the doctor stating so would need be kept in the vehicle at all times.

Wearing a Seat Belt if You’re Disabled

You MUST wear a seat belt if you’re a disabled driver unless advised differently by your doctor. A document would be provided and would need to be kept in the vehicle at all times. Vehicle adaptions may be required.

When Do You Not Need to Wear a Seat Belt?

There are some occasions and exceptions to the seat belt rules. You don’t need to wear a seatbelt if you’re:

  • a driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
  • in a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • a passenger in a trade vehicle and you’re investigating a fault
  • driving a goods vehicle on deliveries that is travelling no more than 50 metres between stops
  • a licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers

As with pregnancy and disabilities, doctors may need to advise against wearing a seatbelt for other reasons. A document would be issued by your doctor and would be kept in the vehicle at all times so that it can be presented to the policy in the event of being stopped.

Seat Belt Rules for Classic Cars

If your vehicle is over a certain age, it may have never been fitted with seat belts and that’s OK. You will have no problems finding classic car insurance with Brentacre but regular companies may query why there are no seat belts.

There’s currently no law stating that you need to have them fitted.

If your vehicle doesn’t have seat belts, then you would be unable to carry passengers under the age of 3 years old. Children over the age 3 are only allowed to sit in the back seats.

There aren’t many vehicles on the roads nowadays that are exempt from seat belt rules. You would almost never seem them actually driving around unless you lived in an area with regular car shows.

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