What are the Seatbelt Rules for UK Private Hire Drivers?

What are the Seatbelt Rules for UK Private Hire Drivers?

It’s been a legal requirement for drivers to wear seatbelts for over 40 years in the UK. As a result, seatbelts have saved countless lives and transformed road safety. 

We take a look at the seatbelt rules for private hire and taxi drivers, and what the government says about seatbelts for passengers. 

A short history of the seatbelt

The invention of the seatbelt predates cars and automobiles. Back in 1885, the American Edward J Claghorn patented the first seatbelt to stop passengers from falling out of taxis. The design included “hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object.”

Swedish inventor Nils Bohlin introduced the modern three-point belt system in 1959. His system consisted of a seat belt with a lap and shoulder portion. Volvo became the first manufacturer to adopt the new seatbelts in 1959.

Since 1965, vehicle manufacturers have had to install seatbelts in all their vehicles. Because of this, UK law has required drivers and adult passengers to wear a seatbelt since 1991.

Seatbelt safety stats

Estimates show that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death in a collision by 50%. When you’re not buckled in, the risk of being killed in a crash doubles.

In 2020, about 25% of people who died in a car were not wearing a seatbelt, according to government data. 

If you crash at 30mph, a passenger sitting behind you not wearing a belt will hit your front seat with a force of between 30-60 times their own body weight.  

In 2021, the Department for Transport carried out a study of seatbelt use among drivers.
The study found that individuals who died between 8pm and 6am were almost 40% more likely to not wear a seatbelt. Those can be some of the busiest hours for private hire drivers. 

passenger wearing seatbelt

Seatbelt rules for private hire drivers

If you’re “offline” ie not looking for work, you can be fined if caught not wearing a seatbelt.

However, when seeking hire, responding to a hire notification or carrying a passenger, you’re not legally required to wear a seatbelt.

Not buckling up could mean the difference between getting home safe or not after a shift. 

According to DfT statistics, 91.6% of private hire drivers wear a seatbelt. 

What are the rules for passengers?

If your passenger is 14 years old or over, it’s their responsibility to wear a seatbelt. Not wearing a seatbelt is a criminal offence resulting in a £500 fine if caught.

Remember that if a passenger behind you hits your driver’s seat in a 30mph collision, they’re impacting you with up to 60 times their own body weight. 

According to the highway code, children under 3 years of age can travel unrestrained in a private hire vehicle. 

Furthermore, children between the ages of 3 and 12 must wear an adult seatbelt if other restraints are unavailable, such as car seats. 

You can read more about passenger seatbelt laws here. 

To conclude

Wearing your seatbelt is important for the safety of you and your passengers. 

Fortunately, vehicles now come equipped with seatbelt reminders, and Uber are introducing a new safety feature to remind passengers to belt in. 

Furthermore, when you’re in your vehicle and not working, you’re no longer exempt, so make sure you always remember to wear your seatbelt. 

Government THINK! Seatbelt information leaflet

History of the seatbelt

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