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Medical Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing

Regulations under the Road Traffic Law generally oblige all drivers and passengers in the front and rear of motor vehicles to wear seat belts.

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DISABLED PATIENTS

There is an exemption for anyone holding a valid certificate signed by a medical practitioner stating that it is inadvisable on medical grounds for him or her to wear a seat belt.

In deciding whether to grant exemption, a medical practitioner needs to judge each case on its merits. There are no conditions (eg; pregnancy) which justify automatic exemption.

Thorough assessment is important. Wherever possible ask patients to demonstrate their problem,in the vehicle if appropriate.

If a medical practitioner decides to grant exemption, then the specific certificate (see below) should be issued immediately. All certificates must specify a period of validity, which may be as long or as short as medically justified. Note that a medical practitioner’s letter is not, in law, a valid substitute. The patient keeps the certificate to show if challenged by the police. A record should be kept of exemptions issued.

Reducing the risk of death or serious injury needs to be balanced very carefully against any reason for seeking exemption from wearing a seat belt. Medical practitioners should consider their decision with the same care that they apply to other medical decisions.

There is overwhelming evidence that wearing seat belts in the front and rear substantially reduces deaths and disabling injuries in road traffic accidents. In a crash at 30 mph unrestrained passengers can hit whatever is infront of them with a force of up to 35– 60 times their own body weight. Reductions of up to 50%, of all types of injury including fatalities, have been recorded. Injuries to the head, face and eyes are particularly reduced.

Air bags are designed to work with seat belts.

They are not alternatives. An activated airbag can seriously hurt a driver or passenger who is not using a seat belt.

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Wearing a seat belt while pregnant

You must wear a seat belt if you’re pregnant, unless your doctor says you don’t have to for medical reasons.

Medical exemptions

Your doctor may say you don’t have to wear a seat belt for a medical reason. They’ll give you a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing’. You must:

1. keep this in your vehicle
2. show it to the police if you’re stopped

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CERTIFICATES

Certificates of exemption from compulsory seat belt wearing bear the recognised EU symbol and will be accepted in EU member
states. A person is not exempt until they have the proper Certificate issued by a doctor.

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