The harsh reality is that you’re twice as likely to die in a road crash if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.

Not wearing a seatbelt is against the law, and the risk to your chances of survival are alarming, so why do people still choose to ignore them?

Drivers and their passengers aged between 17 and 34 are the most likely group to go without a seatbelt and yet have the highest accident rate, which is quite a risky combiation.

Put simply, injuries and fatalities could be prevented if everyone buckled up.

Even on the shortest and most familiar of journeys, make sure you’re wearing your seatbelt in the front or back of the vehicle where belts are fitted.

If you crash, it could save your life.

The Law

The law states that you must wear a seatbelt if one is fitted in the seat where you’re sitting, and failing to do so could land you a £100 on-the-spot fine or a £500 fine in the Magistrates Court.

Only one person is allowed in each seat fitted with a belt and whether you’re in the front or the back, you must buckle up.

Like all rules, however, there are exceptions, such as:

  • If you’re a driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
  • You’re in a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • You’re a passenger in a trade vehicle investigating a fault
  • You’re driving a goods vehicle on multiple deliveries that are no more than 50m metres apart
  • You’re a licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers

Medical exemptions

If you have a medical condition that hampers your ability to wear a seat belt, your doctor may give you a certificate of exemption. You must, however:

  • Keep it in your vehicle
  • Show it to the police if you’re stopped
  • Tell your car insurer


Being pregnant is not a reason to refrain from wearing a seatbelt. Unless your doctor states otherwise, even when heavily pregnant, you must still buckle up.


You must also wear a seatbelt if you’re a disabled driver or passenger, unless your doctor advises otherwise. You may also need to adapt your vehicle.


Children also need to be carefully strapped into vehicles. The law is just as stringent when it comes to little ones, as it is adults.

It’s a parent or guardian’s responsibility to make sure that children in their vehicle are:

  • In the right car seat or booster seat for their weight and height until they reach 135cm tall or aged 12
  • Wearing a seatbelt if they are 12 or over, or are taller than 135cm

You can be fined up to £500 if a child under 14 isn’t in the correct car seat or wearing a seat belt while you’re driving.

The best protection you can give your child when travelling by car is to strap them into a car seat.

There are many types available, so shop around and take your time. It’s best to take your child along with you and ask if you can try before you buy. It’s important that you get the most suitable one for the age, height and weight of your child, and, of course, one that fits your vehicle.

It’s worth visiting those retailers who have staff trained in child car seats, and even better if they offer to fit them for you as part of the service.

Children with disabilities or medical conditions may be exempt from using a car seat, but they may be able to use a disabled person’s seatbelt or a child restraint designed for their needs. A doctor can issue an exemption certificate if necessary.

Top tips

  • Make a habit of buckling up before you start the engine

  • Before setting off, ask your passengers if they have fastened their seatbelts

  • Children must be strapped into rear-facing car seats until they are over 15 months old.

  • The seat your child can use depends on their weight, height and age.

  • Remember to deactivate front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat.

  • Never fit a child car seat in a side facing seat.

  • Only EU-approved height or weight-based child car seats can be used in the UK. For height, they have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’. For weight, they have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’.

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