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Is it a Requirement for Back Seat Passengers to Wear Seat Belts?

Question:

Is it a requirement for back seat passengers to wear seat belts?

Answer:

Regulation 213 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 deals with seat belt regulations. The provision is that “No adult shall occupy a seat in a motor vehicle operated on a public road which is fitted with a seat belt unless such person wears such seat belt: Provided that the provisions of this regulation do not apply while reversing or moving in or out of a parking bay or area.” This regulation makes it clear that adults are responsible for their own wearing of seat belts in a vehicle. The regulation does not differentiate between the legal obligation of front seat passengers or back seat passengers to wear a seat belt, if a seat is equipped with a seat belt then it must be worn. An adult in the context of this regulation is defined as “a person older than 14 years or 1,5 metres and taller”.

With regards to children, the regulation provides that “The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that a child seated on a seat of the motor vehicle:

  • where it is available in the motor vehicle, uses an appropriate child restraint; or
  • if no child restraint is available, wears the seat belt if an unoccupied seat which is fitted with a seat belt is available.”

Furthermore, the driver must ensure that if no seat equipped with a seat belt is available in a vehicle, a child shall be seated on the rear/back seat of the vehicle if there are rear seats available. A child in the context of this regulation is defined as being “between the age of three years and 14 years, except where he/she is taller than 1,5 metres.”

For safety purposes the AA would recommend that if a child is seated on the back seat of a vehicle which is equipped with a seat belt, then the driver should ensure that a child wears such seat belt.

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