It has been a legal requirement for seat belts to be worn since 1983. However, new regulations were put in place in 2006, meaning various changes were introduced. Changes were particularly made in relation to children.
Children under the age of three cannot travel in a car that doesn’t have seat belts, or appropriate child restraints installed. Children up to 135cm tall (or 12 years old) must wear the correct child restraint, such as a booster seat. If child restraints are not available in an instance, for example, you are in a taxi, the children must use an adult seat belt. If a seat belt is not available, children between 3 and 12 years old (or 135cm tall) may travel unrestrained.
The driver is responsible for ensuring all passengers aged 12 and below comply with the rules. However, passengers aged 14 and above must take responsibility for their own safety. A fine of up to £500 can be given to a driver or passenger for violating the seat belt laws. Although it is more likely that the police will issue a fixed penalty notice, with a fine of £100.
The definitive answer to our previous question is: everyone must wear a seat belt. If seat belts/child restraints are fitted, they must be worn.
There are very few exceptions to seat belt laws. One is when a driver is reversing, as they may need to position themselves better in order to get a better view. A supervisor watching a learner reverse may also undo their seat belt.
Another exception is when you are told not to wear a seat belt for medical reasons by a doctor. In this case, the doctor will issue a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing’. You must ensure you keep this in your vehicle at all times, so that you can show it to the police if you are stopped.
Here are a few other exceptions:
Until 1966, cars were often made without seat belts. Many manufacturers offered seat belts as extras to the car. Therefore, if you own a classic car and no seat belts are fitted as standard, you have no legal obligation to have them fitted. However, you should bear in mind that young children will not be able to travel in your vehicle.
Another question you must ask yourself is - will this affect your classic car insurance? This is something you should enquire about with your insurance company. Each company will have their own regulations, so make sure you ask first. You might even find that it’ll save money in the long run by buying seat belts.
Let us know about your experiences with the seat belt laws by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org