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TAXI SEATBELTS: What’s the rules and how many cabbies wear a seatbelt while driving?

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

The rules on when and how to use seatbelts for drivers, adult passengers and children in taxis and minicabs can be confusing.

However, in this article we’re going to breakdown the rules on what you can and cannot do according to Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines, and also take a look at what taxi drivers across the UK are doing when it comes to seatbelt usage.

Stephen McCaffrey, a regulatory defence barrister who specialises in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence, states seatbelt 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 seatbelt to avoid committing a criminal offence.

In taxis and minicabs, the driver is unlikely to be able to provide the correct child car seat required in privately owned vehicles. Children can therefore 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.

How many taxi drivers WEAR a seatbelt given the exemption?

Based on a question put to the readers of TaxiPoint, the UK’s most read taxi industry news source, the industry is pretty much split down the middle when it comes to drivers exercising their right to not wear a seatbelt and those wishing to belt up.

Drivers not wearing a seatbelt said they felt safer without the seatbelt on, especially in non-purpose- built taxis, when passengers were onboard.

Darren Daines said: “I don't after being half throttled to death by passengers grabbing it and pulled round my throat. Made a mess of my face also during attempt robbery.”

Aneel Ghafoor said: “No, never wear my seatbelt while passengers in the car. Last thing I would like is a belt wrapped around my neck by some drunk passenger.”

Other taxi drivers only use their seatbelts on quicker roads and motorways but see little use of them in heavy city traffic.

Some cabbies have only recently begun wearing their seatbelts as technology within new vehicles forces the seatbelt to be engaged before setting off. Drivers of the LEVC TX taxi MUST wear their belts for the taxi to move due to airbags located within the cab.

London cabbie Cliff Mahoney said: “I never did but these TXE’s won’t drive without and have airbags. So best wearing one.”

Of the drivers that do wear a seatbelt whilst working as a cabbie their main reason to do so is unsurprisingly to do with safety.

Nick Adams said: “I want to leave the cab via the door not the windscreen.”

Mark Warren said: “I always do, would rather bruise my chest than headbutt the windscreen.”


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