The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Seat Belt Laws and Exemptions

Seat Belt Laws and Exemption

Information in this section relates to current seat belt laws in the United Kingdom. It also explains the exemption rules on wearing a seat belt in a vehicle.

RULES ON SEAT BELTS: Under the law, if the vehicle seat you are sitting in has a seat belt fitted you must wear it.

Likewise, any vehicle seat that has a seat belt fitted only allows one (1) person to wear that safety belt.

Note: A few exemptions to the rule apply. But, failing to wear a seat belt when you should can result in a fine up to £500 in the United Kingdom.

Seat Belts: The Law for Children

Any time you drive a vehicle you must ensure that all children traveling in the same vehicle are:

Note: The driver can get a fine up to £500 if a child under 14 is not wearing a seat belt or seated in the correct child car seat.

Situations when You Do Not have to Wear a Seat Belt

There are certain instances where wearing a seat belt in a vehicle is not required, such as if you are:

Seat Belt Law Medical Exemption

There are certain medical reasons for not wearing a seat belt. But, your doctor must exempt you from the seat belt laws in the United Kingdom. The doctor will issue a 'Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing'. If this happens you must:

Note: You will need to inform the vehicle insurer if you have a medical reason for not wearing a seat belt. Your doctor can provide further information.

Pregnancy and Wearing a Seat Belt

In most cases, you must wear a seat belt even while you are pregnant. There may be an exemption if your doctor rules that you do not need to wear one based on medical reasons.

Disabled People Wearing Seat Belts

As a rule, you must wear a seat belt even if you are a passenger or a driver with a disability. There may be an exemption if your doctor rules that you do not need to wear one based on medical reasons. In some cases, you may also need to adapt the vehicle.

If a Vehicle is Not Fitted with Seat Belts

Some older vehicles do not have seat belts fitted (e.g. classic or vintage cars). You cannot carry any children under 3 years old in this type of vehicle where there are no seat belts. Child passengers over 3 years old must sit in the back seats during a journey.

Note: These seat belt laws only apply if the vehicle was 'originally' made without fitted seat belts.

Seat Belts: The Law in the United Kingdom

Front seat belt wearing rules for drivers and passengers first came into force in 1983. This new ruling applied to children as well as adults. Wearing rear seat belts became compulsory for children under 14 in 1989. The UK seat belt law changed again in 1991. This is the year that it became compulsory for adults to wear a seat belt in the back of a car.

Reports suggest that the vehicular safety rules of seatbelt wearing saves more than 2,000 lives each year. Most people can see the sense in wearing a safety belt while seated at the front of a vehicle. But, it can also be as dangerous not to wear a seat belt in the back as well.

An Example: Being unrestrained in the back of a car during a crash at 30mph means you will hit the front seat. That also means you could collide with anyone sitting in it. The force of such a collision would be between 30 and 60 times that of your own body weight. The result could be a serious injury or a fatality to yourself and anyone sitting in front of you.

Seat Belt Laws in the United Kingdom