The law requires that drivers and passengers aged 14 and over in cars, vans and other commercial vehicles must wear a seatbelt if available. As a driver you are responsible for ensuring that anyone under the age of 14 wears a seat belt or uses an appropriate child restraint as required in the regulations. On 18 September 2006, the law concerning children using seat belts and child restraints changed.

The law says that all children up to 135cm tall (around 4'5"), or the age of 12, whichever comes first, in the front or rear seats in cars, vans and other goods vehicles must travel in the correct child restraint for their weight with very few exceptions.

In limited circumstances, children can travel without the correct child restraint:

  • In a licensed taxi or licensed private hire vehicle.  If the correct child restraint is not available then, in the rear seat only, children under three may travel unrestrained.  Children aged three years and over must use an adult seat belt.
  • In cases of unexpected necessity over a short distance.  If the correct child restraint is not available then, in the rear seat only, a child of three years or more must use an adult belt. This exemption does not apply to children under three years and does not cover regular school runs or other journeys that are planned in advance.
  • Where two occupied child restraints in the rear seat prevent you fitting a third.  In this case, provided the front seat is occupied, a third child aged three years and over can use an adult seat belt in the rear. If the front seat is free, then they must sit there using the correct child restraint.
  • In older vehicles with no rear seat belts.  In this case, children three years and over may travel unrestrained.