The Arrive Alive website received this interesting question pertaining to the responsibility for wearing a seatbelt:
Could one of your experts please clarify for me the legislation regarding who carries what responsibility for the wearing of seatbelts in a motor vehicle?
The Road Traffic Act, Regulation 213 stipulates:
(11) The driver of a motor vehicle shall ensure that all persons travelling in such motor vehicle shall wear a seatbelt as contemplated in this regulation.
My specific query is: what exactly does “shall ensure that” mean — i.e. who is legally liable if a passenger does not comply with the driver’s insistent request to buckle up?
a) if the passenger is a child (under 14 years or shorter than 1.5 metres), and
b) if the passenger is an adult
And, is there anything else of relevance that would be important to know in this regard (that is not already stated in Regulation 213 per copy and paste below)?
Many thanks. Much appreciated.
The Regulation 213
(1) For the purpose of this regulation—
an adult is a person older than 14 years or 1,5 metres and taller; and
a child is a person between the age of three years and 14 years, except where such person is taller than one comma five metres.
(2) Any reference to a safety belt in these regulations shall be construed as a reference to a seat belt.
(3) (a) Motor vehicles which are required to be fitted with seatbelts in terms of the relevant requirements as contemplated in regulation 216, shall be fitted with seatbelts in accordance therewith.
(b) In addition to the requirements of paragraph (a), no person shall operate a minibus the gross vehicle mass of which exceeds 2 500 kilograms, unless seatbelts are fitted to the space on the front seat occupied by the driver, and if such front seat has seating accommodation for passengers, unless seatbelts are fitted for the driver and at least one passenger.
(c) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a public road unless the seatbelts fitted to such motor vehicle are in good working order.
(d) Seatbelts fitted to a motor vehicle may only be removed for repair or replacement purposes and such motor vehicle may not be used on a public road while such seatbelts are being repaired or replaced.
(e) In addition to the requirements of paragraph (a), no person shall operate a minibus or midibus, first registered after 04 September 2006,operating in terms of an operating licence, unless seatbelts are fitted for every seat in the motor vehicle.
(f) the belt configuration for a seat in the rear of a motor vehicle shall be a 2-point belt or a 3-point belt, with anchorages in accordance with SANS “1430: Anchorages for restraining devices in motor vehicles”, and installed in accordance with SANS “10168: Installation of safety devices (Safety belts in motor vehicles).”
[Insertion of sub-paras. (e) and (f), GNR.871 of 2 September 2005 revoked. Inserted by r. 8 (a), GNR.891 w.e.f. 4 September 2006 and para. (f) substituted by r. 16, GNR.9089 w.e.f. 27 May 2009.]
(4) No adult shall occupy a seat in a motor vehicle operated on a public road which is fitted with a seatbelt unless such person wears such seatbelt: Provided that the provisions of this regulation do not apply while reversing or moving in or out of a parking bay or area.
(5) No adult shall occupy a seat on a row of seats in a motor vehicle opera-ted on a public road which is not fitted with a seatbelt, unless all other seats on such row which are fitted with seatbelts, are already occupied.
(6) The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that a child seated on a seat of the motor vehicle—
where it is available in the motor vehicle, uses an appropriate child restraint; or
if no child restraint is available, wears the seatbelt if an unoccupied seat which is fitted with a seatbelt is available.
(7) If no seat, equipped with a seatbelt is available in a motor vehicle the driver of the motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that a child shall, if such motor vehicle is equipped with a rear seat, be seated on such rear seat.
(8) (a) A seatbelt shall comply with the standard specification SABS 1080 “Restraining devices for occupants of adult build in motor vehicles (Revised requirements)” and bear a certification mark or approval mark.
(b) A child restraint shall comply with the standard specification SABS 1340 “Child restraining devices in motor vehicles” and bear a certification mark or approval mark.
(9) The MEC may exempt a person from the provisions of this regulation on such medical grounds and under such conditions he or she may deem expedient.
(10) An exemption from wearing a seatbelt in a prescribed territory shall be deemed to be an exemption in terms of subregulation (9) for the period of validity thereof.
(11) The driver of a motor vehicle shall ensure that all persons travelling in such motor vehicle shall wear a seat belt as contemplated in this regulation.
This was referred to our Experts and an answer received
Initially the driver was responsible for children up to 14 and adults were charged on their own. The passengers do not need to carry identification and is difficult to charge. A provision was then added to make the driver responsible for all passengers.