Behaviours – Seat Belts

What the Law Says

The Highway Safety Code (HSC) is clear: wearing a seat belt correctly is mandatory. If you fail to do so, you face a fine and 3 demerit points on your driving record.

In brief

“Every person [...] must, while in a moving road vehicle, wear, properly fastened, the seat belt with which his [or her] seat is equipped.” (s. 396 HSC)

“No person may either effect or cause the removal, alteration or putting out of service of a seat belt with which the seats of a road vehicle are equipped under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Statutes of Canada, 1993, chapter 16).” (s. 250 HSC)

Exceptions

Wearing a seat belt is not mandatory if you are backing up, but only for the time it takes to do so.

If you have an exceptional medical condition, you can apply to be exempt from wearing a seat belt. Your attending physician must provide a detailed report demonstrating that you have an exceptional medical condition for which there is no other suitable solution, such as using a seat belt extension.

Penalties

If you fail to buckle up

  • A fine of $200 to $300
  • 3 demerit points

If a seat belt has been removed, modified or made unusable

  • A fine of $200 to $300
  • Find out more about the rules concerning modified cars.

Drivers are responsible for their passengers

You are responsible for ensuring that all your passengers under 16 years of age buckle up. If any of your passengers under 16 are not buckled up, you face:

  • a fine of $80 to $100
  • 3 demerit points

No passengers without a seat belt!

The maximum number of passengers, regardless of their age, is equal to the number of places equipped with a seat belt installed by the manufacturer.

Seat belt or booster seat?

In a vehicle, children whose sitting height is less than 63 cm (measured from the buttocks to the top of the head) must be secured in an appropriate car seat that is adapted to their weight and height. Note, however, that a new Highway Safety Code measure will come into effect in April 2019. Children who are less than 145 cm tall or who are under 9 years of age will have to be secured in a child safety seat.

If you fail to buckle a child into an appropriate seat, you face:

  • a fine of $80 to $100
  • 3 demerit points

Before using a regular seat belt

The child’s position in the vehicle’s seat must be checked:

  • when seated, the child’s back is flat against the seat and his or her legs are long enough that the knees are bent over the edge of the seat. The child must be able to maintain this position comfortably and without effort throughout the trip
  • when the seat belt is fastened, it crosses:
    • over the middle of the shoulder (the collarbone) and not over the neck
    • over the hips, and not over the stomach

You must also wear your seat belt in a taxi. It’s the law!

The law doesn’t change. Passengers in a taxi must always buckle up.

If passengers under 16 years of age don’t fasten their seat belts in a taxi

It is the adult accompanying the child, and not the taxi driver, who faces a fine and demerit points.

Riding in a taxi with a young child

When riding in a taxi, if there are no child safety seats, children must wear seat belts, except if they are too young to maintain an upright position on their own. In the latter case, you should first buckle your seat belt, and then hold the child in your arms. Do not buckle the child in with you because your weight could crush him or her in the event of a collision or sudden braking.

Taxi drivers and seat belts

On the majority of public roads, including roads located within town and city limits, taxi drivers are exempt from wearing seat belts when they are on duty.

However, they are required to wear their seat belts when driving on a numbered public road, such as a highway.

Uber drivers and seat belts

While on duty, Uber drivers are required to wear their seat belts at all times. Under no circumstances are Uber drivers exempt from the obligation to wear a seat belt.