Seat Belts and Airbags

Seat Belts

Seat belts are designed to retain people in their seats, and so prevent or reduce injuries suffered in a crash. They ensure that as little contact is made between the occupant and vehicle interior as possible and significantly reduce the risk of being thrown from a vehicle.

Seat belts are designed to work as the key part of wider injury prevention measures and safety systems, such as airbags and head restraints, which will not be as effective in reducing the risk of injury if an occupant is not wearing a seat belt.

Seat Belt Law At-A-Glance

  Front Seats Rear Seats Who is responsible?

Driver

Seat belt Must be worn if fitted

-

Driver

Child up to 3 Years of Age

Correct child restraint must be used

Correct child restraint must be used.

If one is not available in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle, the child may travel unrestrained.

Driver

Child Aged 3 To 11 and Under 135cm in height (about 4.5 Feet)

Correct child restraint must be used

Correct child restraint must be used if seat belts are fitted.

If a child seat is not available, a child may travel using just the seat belt in these situations:

  • In a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle
  • For a short distance if the journey is unexpected and necessary
  • There isn't room to fit a third child seat

Driver

Child Aged 12 or 13 years or Younger Child 135cm or more In height

Adult seat belt must be worn if fitted

Adult seat belt must be worn if fitted

Driver

Passengers aged 14 years and over

Must be worn if fitted

Must be worn if fitted

Passenger

Airbags

Seat belts have proved to be very effective in reducing such casualties. However, in frontal collisions, car occupants are still injured by being thrown onto unpadded parts of the car interior such as the steering wheel and the dashboard. Therefore, in recent years, airbags have been introduced to provide further protection.

However it must always be remembered that air bags are an addition rather than an alternative to seat belts. The study by Simon Barry et al makes it clear that seat belts are not only cheaper and less prone to negative effects than airbags. They are also more effective in frontal collisions and in a wide range of other crashes where an airbag is ineffective.


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