The U.K. is tough on seatbelts and driving law. It was in 1983 that the law changed and implemented seatbelts in cars. From parking fines to speeding tickets, drivers are always being watched. Whether you are a new driver or just new to driving the U.K. there’s a few things you need to know about when to wear a seatbelt.
The law on children and babies
All children under 12-years-old or less than 135cm tall, must be sat in an appropriate booster seat. All car and booster seats must be European Union approved. In 1989 the law was brought in where all under 14’s in rear seats must be wearing a seatbelt, if they aren’t this incurs an £100 fee, which can rise to £500 if it goes to court.
Babies in height-based car seats must be facing the rear of the car until they are 15 months old. Other weight-based car seats can face forward after the child reaches 9kg. Children are 90% less likely to be killed in a traffic collision if they are in an appropriately restrained seat.
The law on when you don’t have to wear a seatbelt
There are some circumstances where a driver need not wear a seatbelt.
ü When reversing or supervising a learner driver when they are reversing
ü If you are in a vehicle being used for a police, fire or rescue purpose
ü If you are a passenger in a trade vehicle and you are investigating a fault
ü If you are driving a goods vehicle and making deliveries with less than 50 metres between stops
ü If you are a taxi driver who is waiting for a job or carrying passengers. This is because it is deemed that the driver could be more vulnerable to assault if they were restricted by a seatbelt.
ü When you are medically exempt. In this case you must carry your ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seatbelt wearing’. This must be kept in the car, you must show the police if you are stopped, and you must tell your insurer. There are no other exemptions for pregnant or disabled people without this certificate.
If your car doesn’t have any seatbelts, for example a classic car from before seatbelts were implemented, then you may drive without one. However, all children must sit in the back, and no under threes can travel in this vehicle.
The law on minibuses and taxis
When travelling on a bus or coach you must always wear a seatbelt if there is one provided. Minibus and coach drivers are responsible for checking children are wearing seatbelts or restraints. Once you are over 14-years-old you are legally responsible for your own seatbelt, and it is your responsibility to pay any fees you may incur from not wearing one.
Many taxi drivers won’t travel with you if you are not wearing your seatbelt. This is a matter of principle and insurance, so be sure you always wear one.
When traveling with children under three in a taxi you can travel without the usual car or booster seat if:
ü There is a fixed partition between you and the driver
ü There are no restraints available
ü The journey was unexpected
A seatbelt can half the likelihood of death in a vehicle accident
The law on points and penalties
In 2014, 47% of motorists said they were unaware of seatbelt fines in a survey completed by LV.
You can be fined £100 if you or a child in your car isn’t wearing a seatbelt. This increases to £500 if the case against you goes to court.
If an adult in your car isn’t wearing a seatbelt then it’s two points on your licence, if you as a driver aren’t wearing one it’s a further three points, and if a child in your car doesn’t have a seatbelt or restraint then its another three points for each child.
When travelling in the U.K. make sure you follow these rules or face hefty fines, or even having your license revoked.