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Seat Belt Laws and Exemptions

It is the law to wear a seatbelt in a vehicle which has one fitted. Wear it properly to ensure it will work in an accident. Research has shown that those not wearing a seat belt are twice as likely to die in a crash.

Only one person must occupy one seat with one seat belt. Everyone over the age of 14 is responsible for wearing his or her own seatbelt.

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm tall or 12 years old, which ever comes first.

Read more about child car seats on DVLA's website.

Exemptions

There are exemptions from wearing a seat belt when the following applies:

  • You are reversing
  • The vehicle is being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • If you're a passenger in a trade vehicle and you're investigating a fault
  • You're a goods vehicle delivery driver who is travelling 50 metres or less between stops
  • You're a licensed taxi driver who is seeking hire or carrying passengers

Seat Belt Medical Exemptions

If you have a medical reason for not wearing a seat belt this will have been confirmed by your doctor.

In this case you will have a Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing. It is important that this document is kept in your vehicle as evidence for the Police in the event of them stopping your vehicle.

You will also need to inform your vehicle insurers.

Correct Seat Belt Use

Use one seat belt for each person on one seat. Adjust the seat belt so that it fits snug to the body with no folds or twists.

The shoulder belt should lie across the chest and over the shoulder, avoiding the neck area.

The lap belt should be fitted low so that it reaches from one hip bone to another and should not go over the stomach.

Don't use any kind of padding or cushioning - adjust your seat or seat belts if you feel uncomfortable.

Seat Belts and Airbags

Ensure a minimum 25cm gap between your chest and the dashboard or centre of the steering wheel.

You can only use a rear facing child car seat if the airbag has been deactivated.

Seat Belts and Head Rests

A correctly adjusted head rest helps prevent whiplash - the top of your ears should be level with the top of the head rest and as close to your head as possible.

Seat Belts and Pregnancy

Seat belts can reduce injury to unborn children by up to 70% - however they may not be very comfortable when you are pregnant, so try these tips:

  • The diagonal strap can be fitted between the breasts, while sliding it around to the side of your bump
  • Keep the lap strap as low as possible across the hips and under your bump - if it lies over the belly button then it is too high
  • Pregnant drivers need to make sure they can reach the main controls of the vehicle and can see their mirrors

Seat Belts and Disabled People

Disabled drivers and passengers must always wear a seat belt unless they are exempt from doing so on medical grounds. DVLA advise that you may need a specially adapted seat belt.

Classic Cars - No Seat Belts

Don't carry any child under the age of three in a vehicle without seatbelts. Children over three can only be seated in the back seats.

Last updated: Friday 22nd July 2011 at 1:35pm

By Eric Craggs - Google+