Your seatbelt questions

Question 1:

Do you have to wear the upper and lower portions of your seatbelt, or can you just wear the lower portion?

The Motor Vehicle Act does require you to wear a seatbelt in complete assembly as it was designed. Only putting on the lap-belt portion, and leaving the upper portion to dangle is not only still illegal, it can also be very dangerous.

In the event of a collision, wearing only the lap portion of a full assembly will put tremendous pressure on the lower part of your body, and will do nothing to prevent your torso from flying forward into the steering wheel or dash. Physicians and the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles could previously grant certain exemptions, however that is no longer the case. There are currently no recognized reasons – medical or otherwise – that justify not wearing a seat belt.

Police regularly stop vehicles where occupants are not wearing their full seat belt assembly. The officer may educate the driver or passenger about the dangers of not wearing the fully assembly, or may issue a violation ticket. The minor inconvenience of not properly wearing your seat belt is vastly outweighed by the benefits of wearing it. Seat belts save lives, please buckle up.

Question 2:

If police find a passenger without a seat belt, is it the driver or the passenger that gets a ticket?

If you are a driver with passengers under 16 years old, it is your responsibility to ensure they have their seat belts on. Therefore, you as the driver can get a ticket if your young passengers are not belted in. Child passengers must also be properly secured in a child seat appropriate for their age and size. However, once a person turns 16, the onus is then on them to ensure they wear their seat belt, and they can receive a ticket if they are not wearing it.

There is another common possibility where a driver can be liable. Ever squeeze 4 people into your back seat when there are only 3 seat belts? A driver must not permit more passengers in a vehicle than there are seat belts.

Regardless of who can get a ticket, if you are the driver or the passenger in a car where someone is not buckled up, consider giving them a friendly reminder. Not wearing your seat belt can hurt many people other than you. So, if a police officer stops you for not wearing your seat belt, understand that it's not because they want to write a ticket, it's because seat belts save lives, and who knows, someday it may save yours.

Date modified: