The humble seatbelt. It may seem like a simple piece of technology but when it comes to safety it is one of the most important parts of your car.

Before the introduction of the seatbelt law back n 1983, only 40% of drivers and front seat passengers wore seat belts.

Crazy really when you consider that if you have a collision you are twice as likely to die if you don’t buckle up.

Luckily as soon as the law was introduced the number of people and passengers wearing seatbelts shot up to 95%

Recent figures show that 96.5% of all drivers, 93.1% front seat passengers and 90.7% rear seat passengers are using a seatbelt in the UK (according to DfT seatbelt and mobile phone use survey February 2017)

So as a nation we are doing pretty well, but there’s still some people who aren’t getting the message

The risk to those who don’t wear a seatbelt is clear – 27% of road deaths in 2017 were car occupants not wearing a seatbelt

Are you one of the 96.5% of drivers who are buckling up every time?

And do you make sure your passengers are buckling up to? Because if they don’t, they’re putting you and anyone else in the car at risk too.

Why are seatbelts so important?

When a car has an impact with something it loses speed almost instantly.

If you are unbelted your body will continue moving at the car’s impact speed until you hit something – often a wall or tree if you are thrown out of the car or the steering column or window inside the car.

Your seatbelt will keep you secure in the vehicle and it is estimated that you are up to five times safer if you are held in your seat.

Seatbelts and the law

So what is the law on seatbelts?

It’s pretty black and white: It is against the law for anyone in a car to not wear a seatbelt.

That includes passengers in the front and back seats.

If you are caught without wearing a seatbelt you can be fined £100 on the spot and if prosecuted this can rise to a maximum of £500.

So it’s not only good for your health to wear a seatbelt… it’s good for your wallet too.

When don’t you need to wear a seatbelt?

There are a few exceptions when it is acceptable to not be wearing a seatbelt.

These are:-

  • a driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
  • in a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • a passenger in a trade vehicle and you’re investigating a fault
  • driving a goods vehicle on deliveries that is travelling no more than 50 metres between stops
  • a licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers
  • Your doctor may say you don’t have to wear a seat belt for a medical reason. They’ll give you a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing’

Oh and if you are pregnant then you still have to wear a seatbelt… unless you have a certificate from your doctor saying you are exempt for medical reasons.

What if my car doesn’t have seatbelts?

Let’s be honest this is highly unlikely but If your vehicle doesn’t have seat belts, for example it’s a classic car, you aren’t allowed to carry any children under three years old in it.

Children over three are only allowed to sit in the back seats.

And these rules ONLY apply if your vehicle was originally made without seat belts – so if your seatbelts are broken or hanging off that is not an excuse and you will still be fined and possibly prosecuted.


Instructors who are part of the Engage Driving scheme cover subjects such as such as this as part of their lessons.

You can find your nearest engage instructor by clicking here or if you are an instructor who would like to join and support the scheme you can find out more here