Seat Belt Regulations

Wearing a seatbelt could be the difference between you surviving a car crash and dying in a car crash – it’s a simple as that.

It’s been illegal since 1982 to travel in the front seats of a vehicle without wearing a seat belt – and for good reason: over 2,000 lives are saved every single year by ‘belting up’.After the law came into effect there was a recorded 90% increase in the amount of people wearing seat belts, and 25 years later, most people do still adhere to this law, simply because it’s dangerous and stupid not to.

Rear seat belts were optional for a long time, and in the 80’s when the law on front seat belts came into force, there were very few cars that had the rear belts fitted as standard. In 1991, it became the law for adults to wear suitable restraints in the back of a car wherever they were available.

Why is it so Important to Wear Seat Belts in the Back?

Some people don’t consider it as important to wear seat belts in the rear of the car as in the front, but they should: if you are traveling unrestrained in the back seat of a car that crashes at 30mph, the chances are that you will hit the front seat, and anyone in it, with a force that works out somewhere between 30 and 60 times your own body weight. Whatever that works out at, even if you weigh less than Kate Moss, it’s not good news for whoever is sitting in the front.

It’s also worth remembering that if you apply for compensation after an injury obtained through a car accident, then any payment made to you may be reduced if you were not wearing a seat belt.

So What Exactly Does the Law say then?

The law states:

  • You must wear a seat belt in cars and goods vehicles where there is one fitted.
  • If a child under 14 does not wear a seat belt or child restraint then the driver is liable to prosecution regardless of whether they are the parent or guardian.
  • As of September 2006, the regulations changed regarding children and car restraints. They now state that children up to 135cms in height (or 12 years old) must use the appropriate child restraint when travelling in a car, goods vehicle or van.
  • It is acceptable for a child to wear an adult belt when they reach 135cm or the age of 12, whichever comes first.
  • In buses and coaches with seat belts fitted passengers age 14 and above must use them. Public fare-paying passengers travelling in vehicles on 30mph roads are exempt.

Should I Wear a Seatbelt When Pregnant?

Yes, You should always wear your seat belt while you are pregnant. No matter whether you are sitting in the front or back of the car, it will protect you and your unborn baby in the event of a crash and can stop both of you from getting injured, or worse still, killed. Just make sure that you are wearing it properly and in many accident situations, it should increase your baby’s chances of surviving a crash.

Do I Need to Wear it in a Different Way?

The seat belt will usually be a restraint made up of 3 points – i.e. it should have a shoulder strap and a strap that goes across your lap. These will stop you from being thrown out of the car during an accident, and the shoulder strap will keep the weight of your body off the baby in the moments after a crash.

You should always wear your seat belt in the proper way. The lap strap will go under your tummy, stretch across the width of your hips and sit as high as possible on your thighs.The seat belt should be (and probably will be!) snug but you can adjust it using the shoulder strap if it is too tight. It’s very important that it should never, ever go right across your tummy – this could be dangerous for your baby in the event of an accident.


Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.