Seatbelts are fitted in cars as a way to protect you and any other passengers from harm if the vehicle is involved in an accident. The rules on seatbelts differ depending on whether the person is a child, or an adult, and in some cases special exceptions to wearing a seatbelt may apply.


The responsibility for children wearing a seatbelt lies with the driver of the vehicle.

Children under 3 years old

Children under three years must use an appropriate child restraint in all cars, vans and goods vehicles.

The only exception is in the rear of a taxi.

Children between the age of 3 and 12 (or up to 135cm in height)

The same rules apply as with children under three, however there are some exceptions where adult belts can be worn:

  • In a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle.
  • For an unexpected necessary journey of a short distance.
  • If there are two occupied child restraints fitted (which prevent the fitting of a third.)

Children between the age of 12 and 14 (or over 135cm in height)

Children in this category are subject to the same rules as adults - they must wear a seatbelt while travelling in the front or the rear, where a seatbelt is available.

The difference is that it remains the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are wearing a seatbelt.


All persons from the age of 14 upwards must wear a seatbelt whilst travelling in the front or rear of a vehicle.

It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they are wearing a seatbelt. Failure to do so could result in a fine.


There are certain situations where an adult doesn't need to wear a seatbelt:

  • If no seatbelts are fitted in a car that does not require seatbelts to be fitted in the front and/or rear.
  • If they are reversing or supervising a learner who is reversing.
  • If they are driving a goods vehicle which is making local deliveries that are no more than 50m between each stop.
  • If they are a licensed taxi driver on duty.
  • If they have a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seatbelt Wearing’ from their doctor that excuses them on medical grounds.

Minibuses and Coaches
Minibuses or coaches carrying a group of three or more children must be fitted with front facing seats, with at least a lap belt for every child between the ages of 3 and 16.

  • The driver of the coach or minibus is responsible for ensuring that the law is complied with and that children are wearing the provided seatbelts.
  • Adult passengers must use seatbelts where they have been fitted.

Goods Vehicles

  • From October 2011, it has been compulsory to fit seatbelts to all new trucks for the driver and any front facing passengers.
  • Where seatbelts have been fitted, the normal rules apply.