Private cars, taxis, light buses, goods vehicles and buses

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You must wear an approved seat belt, if fitted, when driving.

You do not have to wear a seat belt if you are carrying out a manoeuvre which involves reversing, for example a three-point turn, or moving forward and reversing into a parking place.

You must make sure that all your front seat passengers and for private cars, rear seat passengers as well, wear seat belts, if fitted.

Seat belts that are fitted to your vehicle must be the officially approved type. The seat belt must be worn properly - it must securely fasten the wearer to his or her seat. Two or more persons must not share a seat belt at the same time.

Any passenger under the age of 15 years should be securely fastened to his seat by means of an approved child restraint that is suitable to his age and body size. A child passenger of 2 years of age or less when sitting in the front must be securely fastened to the seat by means of an approved child restraint. It would be much safer to put your children in the rear seats of a vehicle than in the front seats.

Women drivers or passengers are also subject to the above requirement even though during their pregnancy. Mothers who wear seat belts sustain fewer injuries than those who do not, hence the risk to the baby is reduced. The unborn baby is most at risk if its mother dies.

Wearing a seat belt can reduce your chance of death or serious injury by about half. Seat belts are very effective in reducing the effects of traffic accidents occurring at quite low speeds. A head-on collision involving two vehicles each moving at only 25 km/h produces an impact speed of 50 km/h - the same as falling head first from the third floor window of a building.

The following summarise the main legal requirements for wearing seat belts

Private cars, taxis, light buses ( including public light buses ), goods vehicles
Drivers and front seat passengers Seat belts must be worn if fitted.
Middle front seat passengers Seat belts must be worn if fitted.
Private cars Rear seat passengers Seat belts must be worn if fitted and child restraints, if available, must be worn by child passengers of 2 years old or less.
Buses Drivers Seat belts must be worn if fitted.

Exemption on medical grounds

You may be granted exemption by the Commissioner for Transport from wearing a seat belt on presentation of a valid medical certificate from a doctor. However, medical grounds should exempt very few people. There is no list of health reasons including pregnancy which will automatically exempt you. The doctor may reassure you that you can wear a seat belt or he may have to examine you before he can decide whether or not to give you a medical certificate.

Wearing your seat belts correctly

Most modern seat belts fit automatically. But there are still some points to watch. And these are more important with static type belts. The lap belt must restrain your hip bones by lying across the top of your thighs not stomach.

The diagonal strap should lie mid-way across your shoulder, staying in contact with your chest up to about your collar bone. See that the buckle is well down to your side and not lying on your body. You may have to change the length of the straps. Make sure the straps are not twisted or trapped and then fasten the buckle. If necessary tighten the belt - as tight as possible but allowing for comfort.

Do not put on clips onto the seat belt as this would seriously reduce the effectiveness of the seat belt.

Looking after your seat belts

Belts that have not been looked after can be dangerous. They can also be illegal. So check them regularly. Seat belts will wear, even if not used very much. Check your belts for signs of damage and make sure that they run freely through the upper anchorage guides. If you have inertia reel belts, check that the unused webbing goes back into the reel easily.

Make sure that no part of a belt becomes trapped in a door or under a seat. This can cause serious damage to the belt. If the buckles are on flexible stalks, do not bend them back behind the seats or out of the way when they are not in use.

If a seat belt is worn, damaged or otherwise defective, it should be replaced.

Static belts should always be stowed on the clip provided. Do not allow them to dangle on the floor.

Making a seat belt more comfortable

A few people may find seat belts uncomfortable. For example, for smaller people the upper part of the belt may be across their neck instead of across the shoulder. Usually something can be done to overcome such problems. For example, you may only need to have the upper anchorage point lowered by means of a drop plate or a booster together with the ordinary seat belt which also has an extra strap running behind the child that acts as a guide to change the lie of the diagonal belt.

Even if a seat belt is uncomfortable it must be worn. It is safer to wear a seat belt that does not fit comfortably than to travel without using it. It will still protect you in an accident.

How to wear seat belts during pregnancy

How to wear seat belts during pregnancy

Lap belts, as well as the lap portion of a lap-shoulder belt combination should be placed low, across the hips, under the bump and over the upper thighs. They must lie snugly over the pelvis, one of the stronger bones of the body. Never place the belt over the abdomen.

The shoulder strap should be placed between the breasts, above the bump. Adjust the shoulder belt for a snug fit. If it cuts across your neck, reposition your car seat for a better fit.

Give you and your baby the best protection available by buckling up.