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Not wearing a seat belt – why ever not?

13 July 2017 09:00

It’s been a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to wear seat belts since 1983, however, seat belt law itself, isn't that simple.

We all know the reasoning behind the legislation – the safety implications for not wearing one is a no brainer – but do you know what happens if you’re caught driving without a seat belt? Or who's responsibility it is if your passenger refuses to use theirs? And are there any exemptions from the law?

Essentially, if your vehicle has seat belts you legally have to wear them.

It's unlikely your vehicle will not have seat belts unless it's a very old classic as it’s been a legal requirement in the UK for seat belt anchorage points to be fitted in the front of all new cars since 1965, and for front seat belts to be fitted to all cars since 1967.

The law was also changed in 1967, requiring all cars manufactured since 1965 to be retro-fitted with front seat belts.

By 1987, all new cars sold in the UK legally had to have rear seat belts fitted too – but most manufacturers were already fitting them as standard.

The law changed in 1989, making it a legal requirement for children travelling in the back of cars to wear seat belts, followed by another rule change in 1991 which dictated adult passengers must also wear seat belts in the back of cars.

What are the penalties?

The driver is responsible for children aged up to 14 and you could be fined for each child passenger without a belt. Those over 14 are responsible for their own actions - so if you’re caught not wearing a belt as a passenger, you could be hit with a minimum £100 fine.

Not wearing a seat belt isn’t an endorsable offence, so you won’t be given penalty points on your licence if you’re caught without a belt. This means it won’t affect your insurance at renewal time, either, as you don’t need to inform the insurance company.

If the case goes to court, the fine could increase to £500.