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

illustration

You must wear an approved seat belt, if fitted, when driving except when you are carrying out a manoeuvre which involves reversing, for example a three-point turn, or moving forward and reversing into a parking place.

For private cars, you as a driver must make sure that all your passengers wear seat belts, if fitted. As private light bus and goods vehicle drivers, you are responsible for ensuring that your front seat passengers aged below 15 wear seat belts, if fitted.

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

A child passenger under the age of 3 must be securely fastened to the seat by means of an approved child restraint when travelling in the front seat of private car, goods vehicle or private light bus. It would be much safer to put your children in the rear seats of a vehicle than in the front seats. (For more information on child safety in cars, see page 45)

Pregnant drivers or passengers are also subject to the above requirement of wearing seat belt. In case of a crash, pregnant women who wear seat belts sustain fewer injuries than those who do not, hence the risk to the baby is reduced.

Wearing a seat belt can reduce your chance of death or serious injury by about half. Seat belts are also 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.

Legal requirements for wearing seat belts
  Drivers Front Seat
Passengers
Rear Seat
Passengers
 Private Cars Seat belt must be
worn if fitted
Seat belt must be
worn if fitted
Seat belt must be
worn if fitted
 Taxis
 Public Light Buses
 Private Light Buses
 and Goods
 Vehicles
 Not applicable
 Buses  Seat belt must be worn  Not applicable

Exemption on medical grounds

The Commissioner for Transport may consider granting you an exemption from wearing a seat belt if you can present a valid medical certificate from a doctor. However, very few people could be exempted on medical grounds. There is no list of health reasons, including pregnancy, which will automatically exempt you.

Wearing your seat belts correctly

Most 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.

You must not put on clips onto the seat belt as this would seriously reduce the effectiveness of the seat belt and also be illegal.

Looking after your seat belts

Seat belts should be looked after and checked regularly. Worn, damaged or defective seat belt cannot protect you or your passenger, and is also illegal. 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 defective, it should be replaced immediately.

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

Some people may find seat belts uncomfortable. For example, for smaller persons, the upper part of the belt may be across their neck instead of across the shoulder. Usually such problem may be overcome by using a booster seat.

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.