About driver responsibility

Safety belts and child restraints

Safety belts and child restraints protect people by holding them in their seats when there is a crash or when the vehicle stops suddenly. If you don’t wear a safety belt and you’re involved in a crash, you could be thrown out of your vehicle.

Always remember to fasten your safety belt before you drive off.

See About your vehicle for more information about the legal requirements for safety belts in your vehicle.

Responsibility

As the driver you are responsible for making sure passengers under the age of 15 are using an approved child restraint or safety belt.

  • Children under seven must be correctly secured in an approved child restraint.
  • Children aged seven must use an approved child restraint if one is available. If such a restraint is not available, the child must be restrained as securely as practicable in the circumstances using any child restraint or seat belt that is available (whether or not that child restraint or seat belt is approved).
  • Children aged eight to 14 must wear a safety belt.

The safety belt must be worn correctly and kept securely fastened while the vehicle is in motion on the road.

Passengers 15 years and over are responsible for making sure that they wear their own safety belts correctly and that they keep them fastened while the vehicle is in motion.

Bus drivers in vehicles with passenger safety belts are not responsible for ensuring passengers wear them except passengers under the age of 15 sitting in a front seat alongside the driver.

How to wear a safety belt

Most safety belts are retractable. This means they stretch automatically to the correct length when you fasten them and lock only if the vehicle stops suddenly.

If your vehicle has a non-retractable safety belt, you will need to adjust its length before you fasten it. There should be just enough room to slide the palm of your hand between the belt and your chest.

Never put an adult and a child together in the same safety belt.

Special exceptions

You don’t have to wear a safety belt if you:

  • hold a current doctor’s certificate that says you don’t have to wear a safety belt for medical reasons
  • are driving and you’re unable to reach the controls (for example, brake, signals, dip switch) with a safety belt on
  • are a taxi driver plying for hire (your passengers, however, must wear safety belts)
  • are a driver or passenger who is getting in and out of the vehicle often to read meters, deliver goods, etc. In these situations you must not travel faster than 50km/h
  • are reversing and it is difficult to see while wearing a safety belt.

Child restraints

Under sevens

Children under seven years old must be correctly secured in an approved child restraint.

The only exceptions to this rule are where the child is travelling in a taxi that doesn’t have an approved child restraint, travelling in a bus or has a medical certificate exemption. In these situations, the child must sit in a back seat.

Seven year olds

Children aged seven years old must use a child restraint if available.

If such a restraint is not available, the child must be restrained as securely as practicable in the circumstances using any child restraint or seat belt that is available (whether or not that child restraint or seat belt is approved).

For more information about child restraints, visit Using child restraints safely on our website.

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Last updated: 23 February 2015