Seat Belts, Car Seats and Booster Seats
Your chances of surviving a motor vehicle accident increase dramatically if you are wearing your seat belt properly. Seat belts hold you in place upon impact. Occupants in the vehicle who are not properly restrained can cause significant injury to themselves, other occupants or the driver during a collision.
Passengers and drivers in British Columbia are required to properly wear a seat belt. Each unrestrained occupant risks being faced with a violation ticket. If a passenger is under 16 years of age, the driver is responsible for ensuring that he or she is properly restrained. In B.C., seat belt use has been mandatory since 1977.
Motor Vehicle Act, Section 220, covers seat belt assemblies and includes the following:
- A seat belt assembly includes a pelvic restraint, an upper torso restraint or both
- A person must not sell or operate a motor vehicle unless it is equipped with at least two seat belt assemblies in the front seat
- A person must not operate a motor vehicle that has had the seat belts removed or rendered inoperative
- A seat belt assembly must be worn when a motor vehicle is being operated
- Drivers must ensure that passengers, who have attained six years of age but are under 16 years of age, are properly restrained
Currently, under the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles may exempt adults and children age 9 and older from the requirement to wear a seat belt.
On February 26, 2014, the Superintendent’s authority to grant that exemption will be repealed from the MVA. As such, adults and children age 9 and older will no longer be able to receive seat belt exemptions. Persons who currently have a lifetime exemption will retain their exemption.
The exemption powers for children under age 9 will remain.
For more information on this please see the Repeal of Seat Belt Exemptions Fact Sheet (PDF)
Many children are not tall enough to wear a seat belt safely. For this reason, all drivers must ensure young passengers are properly restrained — protective seating types change as a child gets older, taller and heavier.
There are four stages of child seating and restraint systems in total:
- Infants: required to sit in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 12 months old and over 9kg (20 lbs)
- Toddlers: required to sit in forward-facing car seats when the child is at least a year old and over 9 kg (20 lbs). They should continue to be buckled into this type of seat until they are 18 kg (40 lbs)
- Under 9: required to be in booster seats with seat belts when the child is under nine years of age or until they have reached the height of 145 cm (4’9”) tall
- Youth: A properly adjusted seat belt is the last stage for anyone over 9 years age
ICBC publication: Child Car Seats