It is now widely accepted that wearing a seatbelt can reduce the intensity of an injury or even prevent death.  The seat belts purpose is to hold a person down in the event of a crash and if worn correctly, limit and reduce the any injuries sustained and of course to prevent death where possible.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of people who forget to wear their seat belt in the front and a significant number who are not wearing their belt in the back of cars.  During a five year period from January 2012 to the end of December 2016, 1,389 people were reported for not wearing a seat belt in Jersey (Source SoJP)

The consequence of someone not wearing a seat belt in the front of the car are fairly obvious, the driver could be impaled or receive crush injuries from the steering wheel, the driver or front seat passenger could be thrown from the vehicle and statistically, there is a very high chance of death if you are thrown out of a car.

Forgetting to wear your seatbelt in the back of a vehicle, can not only potentially place the rear seat passenger in danger of serious injury or death but can also place others in the car in jeopardy also.  A vehicle involved in a frontal impact collision coming to an abrupt stop from 30mph to zero, will mean that the unsecured passengers may be thrown into other occupants or parts of the vehicle at forces of up to 3.5 tonnes. (Source Department of Transport)

An important factor in maintaining low rates of death and serious injury on our roads is by ensuring as many people as possible wear their seatbelts properly in the front and back of cars and children are properly secured in appropriate child restraints.

Wear it correctly

It is not only important to wear a seat belt when in a vehicle, but just as important to wear it correctly.

The belt must be adjusted so there is no undue slack or twists in the belt. The lap part of the belt must lie across the lap (not the stomach). The diagonal part should pass from the shoulder (not the neck) down to the breast bone and then the hip bone.

Pregnant women

Make sure there is no undue slack or twists in the belt. The lap part of the belt should lie across the lap and under the bump. The diagonal part of the belt should pass from the shoulder (not neck) between the breasts and around the baby bump to the hip.

Legal

Wearing a seat belt in the front of a vehicle became a legal requirement (unless exempt) in Jersey in September 1985.  It wasn’t until April 2009 that it became Law in Jersey for everyone traveling in the rear of a vehicle to also wear a seat belt. 

There are some exemptions under the Law to wearing a seat belt in Law, but our advice is if there is a seat belt available, make sure you always wear your seat belt and make sure it’s on correctly.

Rear Seatbelt Law

‘The Rear Seat Belt Law has Changed!’ – If you’re 14 years of age or older, and you travel in the back of a vehicle, then this change to the law applies to YOU from Friday 3rd April 2009.

Anyone travelling in the rear of a small passenger vehicle, a small goods vehicle or a minibus, must now wear a seat belt by Law.This means that when you are travelling in one of these vehicles, you must belt up, no matter where you are sitting in the vehicle.

Questions & Answers

“Why is the law changing?”
The main reason for changing the Law is to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on Jersey’s roads because someone in the back of a vehicle is not wearing a seatbelt. Over the past 12 years in Jersey, on average every three years, at least one person has been killed in the rear of a vehicle who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and many others have been seriously injured. If you are involved in a crash at 30mph, the average person’s body weight is multiplied between 20 to 60 times its own weight depending on the dynamics of the crash. For the average person this means, the effective weight of their body can be up to 3.5 tonnes (about the weight of a fully grown male hippo) in a 30mph crash.If they are unrestrained in this type of crash, they risk killing or seriously injuring the person sitting in the seat in front of them and/or killing or injuring themselves.

Seat belts are designed to help keep people in the vehicle, away from the vehicle structure and other occupants and to distribute the forces of a crash over the strongest parts of the human body, with minimum damage to the soft tissue.Having everyone belted up in a vehicle is now Law and considered best practise in most European Countries as well as many other Countries of the world, and by bringing our legislation into line with these Countries, we are reflecting best practise and removing confusion about our legislation here in Jersey.

“What is a small passenger vehicle?”
It is a motor vehicle that is not a motorcycle, moped or invalid carriage and is constructed solely to carry passengers and their effects and not carry more than nine passengers (which includes the driver).

“What is a small goods vehicle?”
It is a motor vehicle that is not a motorcycle, moped or invalid carriage, and is designed to carry or haul goods and is not adapted to carry more than nine passengers (which includes the driver) and the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle must not exceed 3.5 tonnes.

“What is a minibus?”
A minibus is a vehicle used for carrying passengers (but not for hire or reward) with more than 8 seats but not more than 16 in addition to the driver’s seat.

“What if I am in an old car and there aren’t any seatbelts in the back of the car for me to use?”
Seat belts are required to be fitted to the front seats of cars registered since 1st January 1967 and to the rear seats of cars first registered since 1st April 1987. If the front seat has a seatbelt available for use, then you must use that one. If however someone is already in that seat and using the seatbelt, then you may use the rear seat without a seatbelt. If you sit in the back of that car and the front seat is available with a seatbelt and you don’t use it, then you would be committing an offence. You will not be committing an offence if you are travelling in a vehicle that doesn’t require seat belts to be fitted and none have been fitted.

“What if someone has a medical problem that means they can’t wear a seat belt?”
Should someone suffer from a medical condition that prevents a person wearing a seatbelt, they and their Doctor will need to complete an application form for a medical exemption certificate. The completed application should then be submitted to the Medical Officer of Health who will approve or reject the application. The Medical Officer of Health may place a time limit on the validity of the certificate.Should the application be rejected, the person has a right to appeal the decision. The medical exemption certificate must be produced to the police officer at the time the holder is informed that they should be wearing a seat belt or within 5 days after the date on which the holder is informed.

“I have to wear a specially adapted seat belt in a car due to a disability. What happens if I need to travel in a different car without an adapted seatbelt as I just can’t wear a normal seat belt?”
That’s fine; there is an exception in the law which would exempt you from having to wear a seatbelt in this circumstance.

“If a vehicle has rear facing seats or side benches with seat belts, do people sitting in those seats still have to wear a seat belt?”
Yes.

“Do I have to wear a seat belt in the back of a taxi?”
Yes

“What about children, has the Law changed in any way for them?”
Not yet, but the Law regarding restraining children in vehicles will be updated in the near future. Follow this link to see what the present regulations are for children

“Does a driver of a car have to wear a seat belt when they are reversing?”
No, if you are reversing you are allowed to remove your seatbelt.

“Am I breaking the Law if the driver’s seat belt has been ripped out of the vehicle and it just isn’t there to use?”
Yes, you would be. If the car should have a seat belt and it’s not there it must be replaced.

“Who else is exempt from wearing a seat belt?”

  • A delivery driver is exempt from wearing a seatbelt providing the deliveries or collection is door to door and that the proximity of each delivery and collection point is such that the driver is constantly leaving and getting back into the vehicle.
  • A fully licensed driver who is supervising a learner driver who is reversing the vehicle.
  • A Police Officer protecting or escorting another person.
  • Someone who is protecting or escorting someone who is not a Police Officer but has the same or similar powers to that of a Police Officer.
  • Someone in the Fire Service who is donning operational clothing or equipment.
  • A Traffic Officer or a Police Officer testing a vehicle where the purpose of the test requires that no seatbelt is worn.
  • A cab driver when carrying a fare paying passenger.
  • Someone conducting a driving test where wearing a seatbelt would be dangerous to the person conducting the test or another person.
  • Someone riding in a trade vehicle, being used under a trade licence, for the purpose of investigating or remedying a mechanical fault in the vehicle.
  • Someone sitting in a car seat that has a seatbelt but the inertia reel has locked as a result of the vehicle having been on a steep incline.
  • Where there are no seat belts fitted because of the age of the car which was not designed for seatbelts.