By Lauren Ferrone
Last updated on: November 16, 2018 at 3:20 pm
You already know it’s a legal requirement to wear a seatbelt, but did you know it can double your chance of surviving a serious crash? That’s why our experts urge drivers and passengers to buckle up before the engine is even switched on. There are, however, a few situations where you may be exempt from wearing one. Words: Lauren Ferrone
1. If you’re the driver reversing a vehicle
Have you ever backed out of your driveway without your seatbelt on?
Surprisingly, a driver isn’t legally required to wear a seatbelt when they’re reversing. There is one clear stipulation though – the seatbelt must be securely fastened before the driver changes gear.
Passengers, on the other hand, must buckle up before the vehicle rolls its tyres in any direction – that means they must have their belt on when the vehicle’s either moving or stationary with the engine running.
Our advice? Drivers and passengers should put their belts on as soon as they get into the vehicle to avoid any unnecessary distractions, like fiddling around for the buckle, before moving onto the road.
Seatbelt offences last financial year
2. If the vehicle’s stationary with the engine running
Before you read on – this doesn’t apply if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
If you’re sitting in your vehicle waiting for the light to turn green, it’s against the law if you don’t have your seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened – even for just a second.
For instance, drivers and passengers mustn’t undo their belt to take off their jumper. In this case, they should pull over and park the vehicle before unbuckling their belt.
There are circumstances, however, when you’re not legally required to be strapped in a vehicle that’s stationary with the engine running, such as when you’re parked in a driveway or shopping centre car park.
Despite no law against doing this, our experts highly recommend buckling up whether a car’s moving or not, to reduce the chance of being injured if another vehicle unexpectedly collides with yours.
3. If you have a medical condition and a doctor’s certificate
Medical practitioners can issue drivers and passengers with physical disabilities, who meet strict medical guidelines, with a certificate that exempts them from wearing a seatbelt.
There are some rules around this exemption. If the passenger has a doctor’s certificate for a medical condition that exempts them from wearing a seatbelt the certificate must be given to the driver who must produce it immediately to a police officer when requested.
Fines issued for not wearing a seatbelt in 2017–18
The final word
If you’re not exempt from wearing a seatbelt and are caught using one improperly or not at all, it could cost you a $363 fine, $60 Victims of Crime Levy and 3 demerit points.
While any passenger aged 16 or older can also be fined for not wearing their belt, it’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers are buckled up. In fact, even if the driver is wearing their belt, they can still be fined if their passengers aren’t.
If more than 1 passenger isn’t wearing their seatbelt, the driver faces a $428 fine, $60 Victims of Crime Levy and 5 demerit points. However, the consequences of not buckling up can be more disastrous than just copping a fine – 19 people killed on SA roads in 2017 weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
Our final advice? Don’t risk it.