Safety belts and restraints

Safety belts support you in a crash or when the vehicle stops suddenly. Without a belt, front seat occupants can be thrown through the windscreen and onto the road. Back seat passengers can be thrown onto the front seats or the front seat passengers, or can hit the roof. 

Wearing a safety belt reduces the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a road crash by about 40%. If everyone wore their safety belts an estimated 25 lives could be saved from road crashes each year.

Using safety belts

  • All modern cars must be fitted with safety belts in the front and back seats.
  • Safety belts must be worn in front and back seats if fitted.
  • Remember that if you sit in a seat fitted with a safety belt, you must wear your safety belt.

Safety belts save lives. They support you if you're in a crash or when a vehicle stops suddenly. The force on safety belts can be as much as 20 times your weight – this is how hard you'd hit the inside of your vehicle without restraint. A lap/sash safety belt gives better protection than a lap belt and should always be used as a preference if available.

Requirements for wearing safety belts

All modern cars in New Zealand must be fitted with safety belts and older vehicles may require webbing clamps to improve the 'hold' of their belts.

Specifically, in New Zealand the requirements are that:

  • front and back seats in all modern cars must be fitted with safety belts
  • if you sit in a seat with a safety belt you must wear the safety belt
  • all children aged under seven must be secured in an approved child restraint when travelling in cars or vans
  • children aged seven must use a child restraint if available. If not available, they must use a safety belt. If a safety belt is not available they must travel in the back seat
  • children aged between eight and 14 must use safety belts if available (if not available, they must travel in the back seat)
  • people aged over 14 must wear safety belts where they are available.

There are additional requirements for safety belts in motorhomes.

What if I don’t wear a safety belt?

If you're 15 years or over and drive or ride in a vehicle without wearing safety belt you can be fined.

If you're the driver you can be fined if you have a passenger aged under 15 riding in your vehicle without wearing a safety belt or child restraint.

Keeping young passengers secure

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring all passengers under 15 years are wearing safety belts or age appropriate child restraints that are correctly fitted into their vehicles.

Children under the age of seven must be properly restrained in an approved child restraint. Children aged seven must be properly restrained in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle, and if not then restrained in any child restraint or safety belt available.

Hiring or buying a child restraint? Before you do, check out the required standards so you can be sure the restraint is approved to be used in NZ, and also check the seat fits in your vehicle. For advice on how to fit it correctly find a child restraint technician.

Find out more about buying and installing child restraints.

Want to know more?

Read about rules and requirements for safety belts in The official New Zealand road code.

Learn about other vehicle features that can protect you in a crash.