Seat belt laws in the UK aren’t always straightforward. So, if you want to stay on the right side of the authorities, read this Taxi Insurer guide and get it clear in your mind today.


Along with knowing all the rules and regulations that taxi and PHV drivers need to follow, arranging specialist taxi insurance is a key part of staying in business. Give the helpful Taxi Insurer team a call and get your taxi covered now.


The importance of wearing a seat belt


When it comes to preventing injuries and saving lives, ensuring your passengers wear seat belts is one of the simplest and most effective things a taxi driver can do. If you need any convincing, check out these shocking facts on the importance of seat belt use.


  • According to the latest Department for Transport data, 23% of the car occupants killed in reported road collisions in 2020 weren’t wearing a seat belt.
  • Passengers who don’t wear a seat belt are twice as likely to be killed in a crash as those who do.
  • Since rates of seat belt-wearing were first recorded in 2013, the percentage of car occupants killed who weren’t wearing a seat belt has ranged between 19 and 27%.
  • Drivers and passengers aged 17-29 have the lowest seat belt-wearing rates and the highest accident rates.
  • If you crash at 30mph, a passenger sitting behind you will hit the front seat with a force of between 30 to 60 times their own body weight.
  • Compensation for injuries resulting from an accident may be reduced if the injured person wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
  • Those killed between 8pm and 6am were more likely to not be wearing a seat belt than those killed between 6am and 8pm. An important statistic for night-time taxi and PHV drivers to consider.


As you can see, making sure that every passenger you carry wears the correct seat belt, or sits in the right car seat, is an essential part of safe driving. Make it a part of your basic driving checklist, along with making sure you have the right taxi insurance.


Seat belt rules for taxis and PHVs


The importance of buckling up really can’t be overstated, and whether you’re the vehicle driver or passenger there are some laws you need to follow. When it comes to passenger safety, it’s vital that taxi and PHV drivers know their responsibilities.


After all, in addition to the safety considerations, a driver or passenger caught without a seat belt when they should be wearing one will face an on-the-spot fine of £100. But if the matter goes to court, the maximum fine could be as high as £500.


You might also end up with points on your licence. A particularly serious matter for someone who drives for a living!


So, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know to stay out of trouble.


Children under 3 years old


A child under 3 years old being carried in the front seat must wear an appropriate child restraint. If it’s a rear-facing child restraint then the front airbag has to be deactivated before the journey begins.


The child can be carried in the rear seat, but must use an appropriate child restraint if one is available. If one is not available then they don’t need to wear a child restraint.


It is preferable for the child to be held by an adult who is belted on the rear seat. But make sure the child doesn’t have the adult seat belt around them, too.


While adults are responsible for themselves, a driver is liable for offences committed by children.


Children aged 3 to 11 years and under 1.35 metres tall


Again, if the child is travelling in the front seat, then an appropriate child restraint must be worn if one is available. If one isn’t, then they must wear an adult seat belt.


When travelling in the rear seat, if an appropriate child restraint is available then it must be worn. If not, then an adult seat belt must be worn.


While the law doesn’t insist on taxi or PHV drivers providing a child car seat, if your taxi firm can’t provide a car seat for a baby or a child, then the parent may take their business elsewhere.


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises parents to book a different taxi or PHV rather than risk travelling with one that can’t provide a child car seat.


So, should you consider buying child car seats for your taxi fleet? Read our article on whether you need a child car seat in your taxi and get your questions answered.


It also highlights the necessity of having good taxi insurance cover in place, whether you transport children as part of your taxi business or not.


Children aged 12 or 13 years or any child over 1.35 metres in height


child smiling in car


Whether travelling in the front or rear seat, an adult seat belt must be worn if no child restraint is available. Never put the same seat belt around two children, or allow a passenger to put the belt around themselves and a child.


Be aware, adult seat belts on their own are less effective for children because they’re primarily designed for use by adults. In a road accident, a child may slide under an adult seat belt because the lap strap is too high over their abdomen, or the seat belt may itself cause significant injuries to the child.


For lots more information on carrying children safely in taxis, coaches, buses and minibuses, RoSPA has created this invaluable guide.


Passengers over 14 years old


An adult seat belt must be worn whether the passenger is travelling in the front or rear seats. It is the passenger’s responsibility to do this, and if they don’t, they are committing a criminal offence.


Pregnant passengers and those with medical exemptions


There are a number of different circumstances where a passenger might not have to wear a seat belt due to medical reasons. However, there’s no automatic exemption and their doctor will have provided them with a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing.’


While it may be uncomfortable for a pregnant passenger to wear a seat belt, they will still have to wear one unless their doctor says otherwise due to medical reasons. Again, they should have been provided with a certificate from their GP.


Find out more about medical exemptions from compulsory seat belt wearing on the government’s website. And if you’re pregnant, then read this helpful guidance on seat belts and staying safe while driving by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).


Pets and guide dogs


The UK is well known as a nation of pet lovers and there are few more cherished companions than our beloved dogs. While it's at your discretion whether or not to let passengers travel with a pet, they need to be suitably under control so they won’t distract you while you’re driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.


A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are just some of the ways the Highway Code suggests you could restrain an animal while travelling in a car. Obviously, if you have a screen fitted between the rear and front seats then that could be enough in most situations.


However, when it comes to guide dogs the rules are somewhat different. If you’re wondering whether guide dogs are allowed in taxis, we’ve got the answer here.


While we all should know by now that having valid taxi insurance is a legal requirement for any driver, did you know there are also strict accessibility laws to tackle the discrimination some blind passengers experience?


You could find yourself facing a hefty fine of up to £1,000 or even lose your licence if you ignore these laws. This recently reported case from Nottingham is a timely reminder of what could happen if you do.


For more guidance on how best to provide an accessible door-to-door service for blind and partially-sighted customers, read this guide from The Guide Dogs charity.


Taxi driver exemption


While not wearing a seat belt can land drivers with a £100 fine, if you’re a taxi or PHV driver you are exempt from this rule in certain circumstances. The rule requiring drivers to wear a seat belt does not apply to a licensed taxi driver when you’re seeking hire, or answering a call for hire, or carrying a passenger for hire. However, when you’re not ‘working’ you must wear a seat belt.


When working as a PHV driver you don’t need to wear a seat belt if you’re carrying a pre-booked passenger. However, you should still wear a seat belt at all other times.


The reason behind these exemptions is two-fold.


  1. You’re less likely to be assaulted. A passenger can’t hold the belt and pin you to your seat while they assault or rob you.
  2. It’s easier for the driver to move in and out of their vehicle to guide passengers and to help them with their luggage.


But just because you may be exempt, it doesn’t mean you can’t wear your seat belt anyway. In the event of an accident, it can make the difference between a minor injury and a fatality.


Everyone wants to go home safe and well. So, it’s recommended to always wear a seat belt unless there’s a very good reason not to.


Even though taxi and PHV drivers have an exemption from wearing seat belts, DfT figures show that 91.6% of PHV drivers and 55.4% of taxi drivers still choose to wear them, which we’re pleased to hear.


How to buckle up correctly


RoSPA has some excellent quick tips on wearing a seat belt correctly:


  • Make sure the belt is tight with no slack.
  • Place the lap belt over the pelvic region, avoiding the stomach area.
  • Ensure the diagonal strap rests across the shoulder, rather than on the neck.
  • Make sure nothing has trapped the belt and it moves smoothly.
  • If you can’t get a seat belt to fit correctly, try adjusting the height on the B-pillar.
  • Check all the seat belts in your vehicle regularly for signs of damage.


Follow these rules, and have taxi insurance in place, to protect yourself and your business from the fallout of road accidents.


What to look for in your next taxi or PHV


As well as ensuring that everyone is safely buckled up before driving off, you’ll also want to look for the following safety features on the next addition to your taxi or PHV fleet.


  • Pretensioned and load-limited seat belts
  • Blind spot warning systems
  • Isofix child seat mounts
  • Good head restraints
  • Smart seat belt reminder
  • Dual stage, seat-mounted, side curtain and knee airbags


And remember, when choosing a new car, check how it performed in the Euro NCAP safety tests. You can use the free 'How safe is your car?' online tool to do this.


Protect your business future with specialist taxi insurance


taxi sign


With access to a panel of UK insurers, Taxi Insurer will aim to find you a policy that meets your needs. Our policies can include such benefits as:


  • Protected No Claims Bonus
  • Cover for Minibus, MPVs and Car
  • Cover for private and public hire
  • 24-hour claims management service
  • Mirror NCB from other insurance policies


Give the team at the Taxi Insurer a call today and arrange a quote for taxi insurance