The Driver's Handbook
Seatbelts and Restraints
Wearing seatbelts is compulsory, not a choice. Modern cars are fitted with seatbelts for all seats, including rear seats. They must be used.
Seatbelts must be worn by people in a motor vehicle when it is moving or is stationary, but not parked. A person must not occupy a seat without a seatbelt if other seats with seatbelts are available.
Passengers aged 16 or older commit an offence in any moving motor vehicle if they do not wear a seatbelt when a seatbelt is available.
Drivers commit an offence if they fail to wear a seatbelt when one is available.
Drivers (except the driver of a bus or motorcycle rider) also commit an offence if passengers, of any age, are not wearing a seatbelt or child restraint.
Drivers must ensure children:
Up to the age of six months
- Use an approved rearward-facing infant restraint and must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats.
6 months to 4 years
- Use either an approved rearward-facing infant restraint or a forward- facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness and must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats.
4 years up to 7 years
- Use either an approved forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness, or booster seat with a properly fastened and adjusted lap-sash seatbelt or child safety harness.
- Do not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats, unless all the other seats are occupied by children who are also under 7 years.
- If there is not enough space to put a third restraint in the back seat, then a child in this age group may sit in the front seat providing they are appropriately restrained.
n.b. if the child is seated in the front seat you will need to use a booster seat without a top tether strap as anchorage points are not available for the front seat.
7 years up to 16 years
- Use either an approved child restraint (child safety seat or booster seat depending on their size), or a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened.
Provided they are appropriately restrained, a child of any age with a disability or medical condition is allowed to sit in the front seat of a vehicle if the driver is carrying a medical certificate.
Drivers of vehicles manufactured before July 1976 are exempt from this requirement.
If there is no suitable child restraint available, taxi drivers must ensure that all children up to the age of 7 years travel in the back seat. Children aged under one year may sit on the lap of another passenger who is 16 years old or older in the rear row, but not between the passenger and the seatbelt. Children aged between 1 year and up to 7 years must be seated in their own seat in the rear row with a seatbelt fastened to the best extent possible given the passenger’s size. Children aged from 7 years up to 16 years must also wear a seatbelt.
Vehicles with only one row of seats
If the vehicle only has one row of seats (for example a utility or panel van) a child must be correctly restrained in an approved restraint in the front seat.
If a child is required to travel in the front row where there are airbags present, you should always follow the instructions from both the child restraint and vehicle manufacturer.
For further information about child restraints visit: mylicence
How to wear a seatbelt
- Make sure the top part of the seatbelt is on the shoulder (not on the neck or under the arm) and the bottom part is on the hips.
- The belt must be properly adjusted. It must be fitted as firmly as possible while being comfortable and with no twists or knots in the webbing.
- Two people must not be restrained with same seatbelt.
- Remember that a seatbelt is only effective if worn correctly.
- A seatbelt worn loosely may inflict serious injury on the wearer in a crash.
- If your seatbelt has been stressed in a severe crash, it should be replaced.
You are exempt from the requirement to wear a seatbelt if your vehicle does not travel more than 25 km/h AND you are frequently required to get in and out of your vehicle AND you are:
- Engaged in door-to-door delivery or collection of goods; or
- Operating a vehicle for the collection of waste or garbage
The following people are also exempt from the requirement to wear a seatbelt:
- Holders of a certificate of exemption from a medical practitioner or from the Minister for Transport. Certificates must be carried by the driver of the vehicle at all times
- Passengers in a police or emergency vehicle, however, if the vehicle has more than one row of seats, a passenger must not sit in the front row of seats
- A two-up driver of a truck or bus is also exempt from wearing a seatbelt while they occupy the sleeper compartment for rest purposes
- A person travelling in a historic vehicle that is registered and driven in accordance with the conditions of registration.
Important information about child restraints:
- A child that is properly secured in an approved child restraint is less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than one who is not.
- Moving your child into a child restraint that is too big for their size will expose them to greater risk of injury in a crash. Please make sure that your child grows out of one type of restraint before moving them up to the next restraint category.
- Children are at greater risk of serious injury when travelling in the front seat.
More information on seatbelts and restraints can be found on the main mylicence site.