Guide to Seat Belt and Restraints Law
It is an offence to:
- Drive a car without a properly fitted seat belt;
- Travel in a car as a passenger without a properly fitted seat belt or restraint; and
- Allow a passenger under the age of 14 to travel in your vehicle without a properly fitted seat belt or restraint.
The law tightened up in this area from 18 September 2006. The current requirements are:
- Adults must wear a seat belt if fitted to the vehicle.
- Children aged 12 or taller than 135 cm must wear an adult seat belt where fitted to the vehicle.
- Children over 3 and under 12 who are 135cm or less in height must use an appropriate child restraint, which is either a forward facing child seat (9kg to 18kg), a booster seat (15kg+) or a booster cushion (22kg+).
- Children under the age of 3 must use either a baby seat (up to 13 kg) or a child seat (9kg to 18 kg) and a rear facing seat cannot be used in the front passenger seat if the passenger seat is fitted with an airbag. A carry cot may be acceptable for very young children as long as it is suitably strapped in.
Do I need an NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) for Seat Belt Offences?
No, there is no requirement for an NIP for this offence.
Fine up to £500 if the matter goes to Court or a £30 fixed penalty notice.
These vary very much depending on the vehicle. There are numerous exemptions to the regulations dependent on the type and age of vehicle. However, generally for a child under 3 the only exception is travelling in a taxi where no restraint is available. For children over 3 a lot depends on the availability of a suitable seat (which does not mean you can generally ignore the requirement to buy one). Other exceptions relate to whether the vehicle has seat belts fitted, the situation was an emergency or there is a medical reason why no seat belt was worn. The regulations are complicated and we recommend you seek legal advice on these.