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Eight things you probably didn’t know about seatbelt laws

14/02/2023

Drivers are being urged to brush up on their understanding of seatbelt laws after PM Rishi Sunak was fined for not wearing one.

Motoring experts at Quotezone.co.uk have researched eight laws about seatbelts in the UK that most drivers are unaware of, which could land them a hefty fine.

The seatbelt law was first introduced in 1983 and has since saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries.*

But the latest figures show that still 5.2% of drivers and 8.5% of back seat passengers were observed not wearing a seatbelt.**

In most circumstances every passenger and driver is required by law to wear their seatbelt, no matter how short the journey is.

If anyone is caught not wearing a seatbelt when they are supposed to, they could be fined up to £500.***

But there are certain situations which do not legally require drivers or passengers to wear a seatbelt, although it is always strongly advised.

Many people are unaware that the driver is only responsible for children under 14 to be wearing their seatbelt; anyone over 14 is accountable for themselves.

Owners of classic cars which do not have a seatbelt installed are not legally required to get one fitted and drivers are therefore exempt from wearing one.

Taxi drivers and certain buses and coaches also have differing rules about not wearing seatbelts – coaches first used before 1988 do not need to install seatbelts and taxi drivers are completely exempt from wearing one.****

Greg Wilson, founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk said: “Since the seatbelt law was first introduced over 40 years ago it has saved thousands of lives and made the UK roads much safer for everyone.

“We urge everyone to wear a seatbelt in all situations, even if they are legally exempt, for their own safety and to avoid a hefty fine of up to £500. It’s important to make sure you do know the laws surrounding seatbelts to stay within the law and avoid any unsafe trips for yourself and your passengers.

“One of the things most people are unaware of is that the driver is only responsible for ensuring children under 14 wear their seatbelt, anyone older than 14 is accountable for themselves.  Also any driver who is reversing is not legally required to wear a seatbelt either.”

Quotezone.co.uk’s eight things you probably didn’t know about seatbelts:

  1. Taxi drivers are exempt from wearing seatbelts

Taxi drivers who are carrying passengers or plying for hire are exempt from wearing a seatbelt. This law is to protect the driver from any passengers who may use the seat belt to hold the driver down and attack them.

  1. You are allowed to remove your seatbelt when you’re reversing

When a driver is reversing, they are legally permitted to take off their seatbelt. This also applies to Brits who are supervising a learner driver who is reversing. The seat belt must be put back on as soon as they continue to drive forwards.

  1. Many classic cars are exempt from seatbelt laws

Before 1965, seatbelts did not have to be fitted into UK vehicles. So for those who drive a classic car which was originally manufactured without a seatbelt, there is no law requiring one to be fitted. Children under three cannot sit in the car, and those over three can only sit in the back.

  1. HGVs are exempt from seatbelt rules on short journeys

Motorists who are driving goods vehicles on delivery rounds do not need to wear a seatbelt if the distance is no more than 50 metres in between stops. In all other circumstances they must have a seatbelt on, unless reversing.

  1. It’s possible to get a medical exemption to seatbelt restrictions

Doctors are able to hand out a certificate to those drivers who have valid medical grounds to not wear a seatbelt. This certificate must be kept in the car to show the police if necessary, as well as informing the car insurer.

  1. Passengers do not have to use seatbelts on buses

Passengers onboard buses are exempt from wearing seatbelts, and buses generally do not have them installed. This is because these urban buses are intended for short trips at slow speeds and usually travel in dedicated bus lanes. They’re also designed to allow passengers to stand. Bus drivers are required to wear seatbelts if one is fitted – this depends on the year of manufacture.

  1. Whether or not you have to wear a seatbelt on a coach depends on when the vehicle was first registered

Unlike buses, the seatbelt law on coaches depends when the vehicle was first used. Coaches registered before 1988 do not require adults to wear seatbelts, those registered between 1988 and 2001 require seatbelts on forward-facing seats, and after 2001 requires a three-point belt on all coach seats.

The reason the rules for seatbelts on coaches differs from those on buses is that coaches are often intended for longer journeys, and coaches are also more likely to travel on motorways and dual carriageways.

  1. 14 year olds are personally responsibility for complying with seatbelt laws

Passengers who are over 14 years old are required to wear a seatbelt by law, but it is their own responsibility to do so. Drivers are only responsible for ensuring children under 14 wear their seatbelt and are in the correct child seat.

Quotezone.co.uk helps around 3 million users every year find savings on household bills and essentials, such as taxi driver insurance, courier insurance, and fleet insurance.

References:

*https://www.gov.uk/government/news/thirty-years-of-seatbelt-safety

**https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/seatbelt-and-mobile-phone-use-surveys-2021/seatbelt-wearing-rates-great-britain-2021

***https://www.gov.uk/seat-belts-law

****https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/seat-belts-in-minibuses-coaches-and-other-buses/seat-belts-in-minibuses-coaches-and-other-buses


This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.

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