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Car accidents » Car seat belt law

Since the introduction of legislation in 1983 which states that you must wear a seatbelt if one is fitted, it is estimated that 50 thousand lives have been saved in car accidents as a result. Most car drivers wear seatbelts these days, with 90% of adults in a front seat wearing seatbelts, but only 66% in the back.

Will your seatbelt protect you in a car accident?

Only 4% of drivers ensure that they are properly wearing their seatbelts when they set off. Here are the three things you should check to make sure your seatbelt will protect you in a car accident:

  • Wear your seatbelt as tight as possible
  • Wear the lap belt over your pelvis and hips, not your stomach
  • Wear the diagonal strap over your shoulders, not neck

Seatbelt law

Since 1965 seatbelts must be fitted in the front of all new cars, and 1987 legislation added compulsory rear seatbelts to that.

Under UK law:

  • Adults and children over 12 or over 1.5 metres must wear seatbelts in the front of a car, and in the back if available.
  • Children aged 3-11 and under 1.5 metres must wear a child restraint if available, and if not, they must wear a seatbelt in the front of the car, or in the back if available.  It is always safer for children to travel in the back of the car, unless there is a better form of restraint in the front.
  • Children aged under 3 must wear a child restraint if it is available, but if it is not, then they must travel in the back. If appropriate restraint is only available in the front, then they must wear that restraint.

Passengers travelling in taxis and small minibuses must wear seatbelts, and for the latter the same rules apply as for in cars.


  • It is permissible to travel without a seatbelt if you are travelling in a car that does not have rear seatbelts and it is not possible to sit in the front.
  • Delivery van drivers are allowed to drive 50 metres between collections and deliveries without wearing a seatbelt.
  • You do not need to wear a seatbelt if you are reversing.
  • You do not need to wear a seatbelt if you are travelling in a coach or large minibus (although it is highly recommended that you do).

Child seats

Whilst many parents fit child seats for their young children the vast majority of under 3 year olds have child seats unfortunately 75-80% of those seats are incorrectly fitted. For more information about how to fit a child seat, go to www.childcarseats.org.uk.

Been injured in a car accident? We can help you

If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident that was caused by somebody else, you may well be eligible for compensation. Our personal injury solicitors handle thousands of car accident claims from people across the UK each year, providing expert legal advice and assistance at no cost to our customers.

Our personal injury service is totally cost-free at all times, and we do not require you to take out any loans or take any financial risks whatsoever.

Free legal advice

If you would like a free claim assessment and advice about making a car accident claim, or simply call our dedicated support line on 01582 437070 for free partial advice.