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Seat Belts and Child Restraints

You MUST wear a seat belt in cars, vans, and other goods vehicles, if there is one fitted. The table below provides further detailed information on seat belt laws in the United Kingdom.

HIGHWAY CODE SEAT BELT: This guide provides the latest information on wearing seat belts and child restraints.

RULE 99: Adults, and children aged 14 years and over, MUST use a seat belt or child restraint, where fitted.

This seat belts rule also applies when seated in minibuses, buses, and coaches.

Seat Belt Medical Exemption

Holders of medical exemption certificates and those making cargo deliveries or collections in goods vehicles when travelling less than 50 meters (approximately 162 feet) are exempt from the Highway Code seat belt rules in the United Kingdom.

This table summarizes the seat belt responsibilities and main legalities for driver and occupants wearing seat belts in cars, vans and other goods vehicles.

Highway Code Seat Belt Requirements

Occupant Front Seat Rear Seat Liable
Driver Must be worn (if fitted) N/A Driver
Child (under 3 years of age) Correct child restraint Must be used Correct child restraint MUST be used (may travel unrestrained in a taxi if not available) Driver
Child from 3rd birthday up to 1.35 metres in height (or 12th birthday, whichever they reach first) Correct child restraint Must be used Correct child restraint MUST be used where seat belts fitted. MUST use adult belt if correct child restraint is not available in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle, or for reasons of unexpected necessity over a short distance, or if two occupied restraints prevent fitment of a third. Driver
Child over 1.35 meters (approx 4ft 5ins) in height or 12 or 13 years Seat belt Must be worn if available Seat belt MUST be worn if available Driver
Adult passenger aged 14 and over Seat belt Must be worn if available Seat belt MUST be worn if available Passenger

Driver Responsibilities

Rule 100: As you can determine from the table above, the driver’s responsibility means he or she MUST ensure that all children under 14 years of age in cars, vans and other goods vehicles wear a seat belt.

A baby seat, child seat, booster seat or booster cushion MUST be used which is suitable for the child’s weight and fitted to the manufacturer’s instructions if a child is under 1.35 meters (approx 4 feet 5 inches) tall.

This Highway Code ruling means that the driver should be sure that a child uses a suitable restraint which is correctly adjusted.

Note: It is also required that small children sit in an approved seat restraint where required.

Rear-facing Baby Seats

Rule 101: A rear-facing baby seat MUST NOT be fitted into a seat which is protected by an active frontal airbag. Current safety standards have determined that airbags may cause serious injury or death to the child in the event of a car crash.

Children in Vehicles

Rule 102: Drivers who are carrying children in cars, vans and other goods vehicles should also ensure that:

  • All children get into the vehicle through the door which is nearest to the kerb.
  • Child restraints are properly fitted as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Children do not sit behind the rear seats in an estate car or hatchback (unless a special child seat has been fitted).
  • Child safety door locks are used when children are in the vehicle (where fitted).
  • Children are kept under control inside the vehicle.


Children’s Rules | A vital section helping parents establish house rules for small kids and toddlers.

Road Safety for Children | UK Highway Code rules simplified to help small kids understand road safety.

Highway Code Seat Belts and Child Restraints in the United Kingdom