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seat belt


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A belt fitted in a motor vehicle, designed to restrict the forward movement of a driver or front-seat passenger in the event of an accident. All passenger vehicles with seating for fewer than 13 passengers and most four-wheeled goods vehicles registered after 1 January 1965 must comply with statutory regulations governing seat belts, although the details of these regulations vary according to the date when the vehicle was first registered. It is compulsory for all drivers and front-seat passengers in cars registered after 1964, light vans registered after 1966, and three-wheeler vehicles registered after 1969 to wear seat belts at all times when the vehicle is moving, and for back-seat passengers to wear seat belts when these are fitted, subject to certain exceptions. These exceptions are:(1) drivers carrying out any manoeuvre that includes reversing (passengers must still wear their seat belts during such manoeuvres);(2) drivers making local delivery or collection rounds in specially adapted vehicles (e.g. milkmen in milk vans);(3) anyone whose seat belt has become faulty during the drive or who has already arranged to have a faulty belt repaired;(4) anyone whose belt has locked on a steep hill;(5) anyone supervising a learner who is reversing;(6) certain categories of people with a special exemption certificate on medical grounds.Any front-seat passenger over the age of 14 is responsible for wearing his own seat belt, but the driver of the car is responsible for ensuring that front-seat passengers under the age of 14 wear a seat belt. Children under the age of one must wear an approved child restraint. Over the age of one they can wear an adult seat belt, preferably with an approved booster cushion to raise them to a suitable height. Alternatively they can sit in the back seat fitted with an approved restraint. When more passengers are carried than there are seat belts available, the passengers who do not have seat belts do not break the law by not being restrained. Thus in a four-seater car with a fifth passenger sitting in the middle of the back seat, the middle back passenger does not break the law by being unrestrained.

(1) drivers carrying out any manoeuvre that includes reversing (passengers must still wear their seat belts during such manoeuvres);

(2) drivers making local delivery or collection rounds in specially adapted vehicles (e.g. milkmen in milk vans);

(3) anyone whose seat belt has become faulty during the drive or who has already arranged to have a faulty belt repaired;

(4) anyone whose belt has locked on a steep hill;

(5) anyone supervising a learner who is reversing;

(6) certain categories of people with a special exemption certificate on medical grounds.

Failure to wear a seat belt carries a fine at level 2 on the standard scale and may also be regarded as contributory negligence in a claim for injuries sustained in a road traffic accident, leading to a reduction in damages.

Subjects: Law.


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