Safer Driving – Seat belts

  • Seat belts save lives, even on the shortest trips and at the lowest speeds.
  • In a crash someone not wearing a seat belt is more likely to die than someone using one. In 2007, of the 1,432 car occupants killed, research indicates that some 34 per cent were not wearing a seat belt. (Think web site October 2010)
  • You are twice as likely to die in a crash if you don’t wear a seat belt. (Think web site October 2010)
  • Nearly 300 lives would almost certainly have been saved in 2007 if all car occupants had been wearing a belt. Roughly, that’s one life a day. (Think web site October 2010)

The Law:

  • It is compulsory for adults and children over 12 or more than 135cms (4ft 5ins) to wear front and rear seat belts unless they have a medical exemption certificate.
  • All children under three years old must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in a car, van or goods vehicle whether they are seated in the front or the back.
  • Children aged three or up to their 12th birthday and under 135 cms (4ft 5ins) must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in a car, van or goods vehicle whether they are seated in the front or the back.
  • Rear facing baby seats must not be used in vehicles seats protected by an active frontal airbag.
  • When travelling in coaches, buses or minibuses passengers aged 3 and above must use seat belts where fitted.

Who is responsible?

  • It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure a child under the age of 14 uses the correct restraint.
  • Adults and children over the age of 14 are legally responsible for ensuring they are properly restrained.

Safety:

In order for a seat belt to protect you:

  • the lap belt should be as low as possible over the hips and the shoulder belt should be lying on the chest and over the shoulder (or have the lap belt flat on the thighs and the shoulder strap between the breasts if pregnant);
  • there should not be any slack in the belt;
  • should never use padding or cushions to improve seat belt comfort;
  • they must be in good working order;
  • should never put the same seat belt around two children or around yourself and another passenger.

For safety, it is vital that:

  • children under 135 cm tall use the appropriate child restraint for their size and weight;
  • the restraints carry the United Nations ‘E’ mark or a BS ‘Kitemark’;
  • manufacturer’s instructions are followed closely when fitting;
  • restraints fit tightly into the adult seats;
  • child restraints are new, not second hand.

Van drivers:

  • The seat belt exemption for delivery drivers now only applies when travelling 50m or less between deliveries or collections.