A seat belt graphic

Why do safety belts matter?

Wearing a safety belt increases your chances of surviving a crash by a massive 40% - and greatly reduces your risk of broken bones, brain damage, other horrific injuries or disfigurement.

If everybody in New Zealand always wore their seat belt, around 35 lives, 250-300 injuries and millions of dollars could be saved every year!

In a crash, if you were in a front seat and not wearing a seatbelt, chances are you would be thrown into the windscreen or out of the vehicle. The back seat passenger without a seat belt is just as likely to receive severe injuries not only to themselves, but also cause injury to the person sitting in the seat in front of them.

Driver’s responsibility for passengers

If you are the driver, the law says you are responsible to make sure everyone under 15 years old is wearing a safety belt or sitting in an approved child restraint.

Too many crashes continue to occur where it is shown the driver and/or passengers were not wearing their safety belt and more alarming, young children that were not restrained correctly or not even restrained at all.

The only exception to this is a passenger service vehicle, such as a bus or taxi.

Fines for not wearing a safety belt

If you don’t wear a safety belt or you allow a person under 15 years to travel unrestrained you could face a fine of $150 for each belt not worn. People 15 years and older are responsible for their own fine.

Excuses that don’t cut it

× My safety belt is uncomfortable

× I’m only going to the shops, 5 minutes away

× My car is as safe as houses so I don’t need to wear a safety belt

× I’ve been driving for 30 years and I have never had a crash, so why do I need to wear a safety belt?

× Safety belts make me feel trapped

× It’s my life and I’ll make my own decisions

Safety belt maintenance

The material safety belts are made from does wear out over time. A damaged or worn out seat belt may break or stretch too much in a crash and may not protect you. Common signs of damage and wear are:

  • Fading from UV light
  • Fraying from rubbing on vehicle fittings
  • A cut in the material
  • The belt is no longer flexible or supple

Safety belts are checked when your vehicle goes through a Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness. However, it does not do any harm to check your safety belts yourself at regular intervals.

For more information on safety belts, child restraints or airbags, check the information on www.nzta.govt.nz or contact the Road Safety Co-ordinator at the Council.