Driving Test Success

Car Seat Belt and Child Restraint Laws

When carrying passengers or heavy loads, as a driver, you have various legal responsibilities.

Seat Belt Law

All new cars must be fitted with seat belts that cover every seat. If a seat belt is available to a driver or passenger then they must wear it. Old, 'classic cars' may well have no seat belts fitted, if so, you can drive or be a passenger in the car without wearing a seat belt.

The owner of the car must make sure that all seat belts are in good order, and that they conform to the regulations.

As an ordinary motorist you don't have to wear a seat belt:

Other exceptions apply to people in certain jobs such as taxi drivers and driving instructors.

The driver is responsible for making sure all children under the age of 14 wear a seat belt or use an approved child restraint.

  Front Seat: all vehicles Rear Seats: cars, small minibuses
Driver Seat belt must be worn if fitted  
Child under 3 years old Correct child restraint must be used Correct child restraint must be used *
Child from 3rd birthday up to 1.35m
in height (or 12th birthday,
whichever they reach first)
Correct child restraint must be used Correct child restraint must be used where seat belts fitted**
Child over 1.35m in height,
or 12 or 13 years old
Adult seat belt must be worn
if available
Adult seat belt must be worn if available
Adult passengers
(everyone over 14 years old)
Seat belt must be worn if available Seat belt must be worn if available

* a child may travel without using a child restraint in a taxi if a child restraint is not fitted

** an adult seat belt must be worn if the correct child restraint is not available in a taxi or private hire vehicle, or for reasons of unexpected necessity over a short distance, or where two occupied child restraints prevent a third being fitted.

Child Restraints and Airbags

A child must not be carried in a rear-facing child restraint where the seat is protected by an active frontal airbag.

Loading Your Car

You should never carry a load that exceeds the weight limits for your car, as carrying such a weight will be dangerous and will have a negative affect on braking, handling, suspension and acceleration.

Ensure all loads are:

When carrying a dog it should be strapped in with a special car harness or be placed behind a grille. Smaller animals should be carried in pet travel boxes which should be secured with a seat belt.

When carrying packages or objects inside your car you should make sure they won't move if you have to brake or turn suddenly. You should also strap down any large or heavy object. Smaller items should be carried on the floor but make sure they can not find their way into the driver's footwell.

When carrying a heavy load

When carrying a heavy load, the weight in the back of your car may raise the angle of the headlights. To avoid dazzling drivers ahead, your car may be fitted with a headlights adjuster, if so, you should use it to lower the angle of the lights.

Author Richard Jenkins

Copyright © Richard Jenkins. All rights reserved worldwide