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TAXI SEAT BELTS: What are the rules for drivers, passengers and kids when taking a cab?

The rules on when to use seat belts and child seats in taxis and minicabs can be confusing, especially when it comes to travelling with children of different ages in a cab.

According to the DfT in most cases, children under 3 must always be in a child car seat. The rules are however different if:

  • the child is in a taxi or minicab

  • the child is in a minibus, coach or van

  • the child is on an unexpected journey, for example an emergency

  • there’s no room for another car seat.

In taxis and minicabs, if the driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat, children can travel without one - but only if they travel on a rear seat:

  • and wear an adult seat belt if they’re 3 or older

  • without a seat belt if they’re under 3.

Unexpected journeys?

If the correct child car seat isn’t available and an unexpected journey needs to be made, a child aged 3 or older can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:

  • unexpected

  • necessary

  • over a short distance.

However, you can’t take children under 3 on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without the correct child car seat, unless both of the following apply:

  • it’s a licensed taxi or minicab

  • the child travels on a rear seat without a seat belt.

According to Stephen McCaffrey, a regulatory defence barrister who specialises in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence, seat belt laws differ for all the riders in a taxi compared to privately owned vehicles.

The rules for a taxi or minicab driver means they are exempt from wearing seatbelts under the following circumstances (reg. 6 The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993):

  • a licensed taxi while it is being used for seeking hire, or answering a call for hire, or carrying a passenger for hire, or

  • a private hire vehicle while it is being used to carry a passenger for hire.

Most importantly this exemption does NOT apply to passengers who are required to wear seatbelts. Any person over the age of 14 MUST wear a seat belt to avoid committing a criminal offence.


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