5th July 2021

Seat Belt Laws and Classic Cars

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.

So, Who Must Wear A Seat Belt?

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 13 and below (or over 135cm in height) comply with the rules and wear their seatbelt.

However, passengers aged 14 and above must take responsibility for their own safety and ensure they are wearing a seatbelt if fitted.

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.

Are There Any Exceptions?

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:

  • A vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • Passengers in a trade vehicle when investigating a fault
  • Licensed taxi drivers who are ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers
  • Travelling no more than 50 metres between stops on deliveries in a goods vehicle

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 children under 3 years old will not be able to travel in your vehicle. Children over 3 years of age are only allowed to sit in the back seats.

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 news.views@footmanjames.co.uk

I have a 1965 vehicle that does not have seat belts and I love it! Seatbelts are for zombies. In the event of some twat not paying attention or not being capable of controlling their vehicle… I would be better off being flung from my vehicle than remaining in it as it was not built to have seatbelts and being strapped between two points that would not necessarily remain the same distance apart in the event of crumpling metal it would probably break my pelvis and lower spine if anything crashed into my b pillar. It saddens me that everyone else has fitted seatbelts as once fitted they can not be unfitted.

JustBarry, 19/04/2022

I bought an old army lorry and looked into fitting seat belts but couldn't find anyone who was willing or able to undertake the task. As such I am driving without belts, although I would prefer to wear them. Have just had a police enforcement notice and was really impressed they could pick up that fault from a camera. It's reassuring that the police are so efficient at traffic offences and such a shame they can't transfer that efficiency to other aspects of crime prevention.

., 05/11/2021

Hi I do think that all seat belts should be fitted in all vehicle as you could be killed or injured this is why you Where one for your own safety. Thanks sati

Sati, 18/11/2020