Do you know the specific rules and laws that apply to wearing seatbelts in licensed vehicles and who is responsible?

Taxi and private hire drivers are exempt from wearing seatbelts under the following circumstances (reg. 6 The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993):

  1. a licensed taxi while it is being used for seeking hire, or answering a call for hire, or carrying a passenger for hire, or
  2. a private hire vehicle while it is being used to carry a passenger for hire.

The exemption does not apply to passengers however who are required to wear seatbelts.  Any person over the age of 14 must wear a seat belt to avoid committing a criminal offence. 

Note however that, unlike adults, it is the responsibility of the vehicle proprietors or licensed driver to ensure children (anyone under the age of 14) wear the appropriate restraint for their age and length.

There is often uncertainty with regards to the rules when children do not have the correct restraint with them at the time they take a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle.  Under regulation 10 of the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993[1] provides an exemption for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles:

  1. a small child aged under 3 years who is riding in a licensed taxi or licensed hire car, if no appropriate seat belt is available for him in the front or rear of the vehicle;
  2. a small child aged 3 years or more who is riding in a licensed taxi, a licensed hire car or a small bus and wearing an adult belt if an appropriate seat belt is not available for him in the front or rear of the vehicle.

[1] As amended by The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) (Amendment) Regulations 2006

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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