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Seatbelts (safety belts) support you in a crash or when the vehicle stops suddenly. Without a seatbelt, 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 seatbelt reduces the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a road crash by about 40%. If everyone wore their seatbelts an estimated 25 lives could be saved from road crashes each year.

Using seatbelts

  • All modern cars must be fitted with seatbelts in the front and back seats.
  • Seatbelts must be worn in front and back seats if fitted.
  • Remember that if you sit in a seat fitted with a seatbelt, you must wear the seatbelt.

Seatbelts save lives. They support you if you're in a crash or when a vehicle stops suddenly. The force on seatbelts 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 seatbelts gives better protection than a lap belt and should always be used as a preference if available.

Requirements for wearing seatbelts

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

Webbing - clamp safety belt replacements

Specifically, in New Zealand the requirements are that:

  • front and back seats in all modern cars must be fitted with seatbelts
  • if you sit in a seat with a seatbelt you must wear the seatbelt
  • 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 seatbelt. If a seatbelt is not available they must travel in the back seat
  • children aged between eight and 14 must use seatbelts if available (if not available, they must travel in the back seat)
  • people aged over 14 must wear seatbelts where they are available.

Child restraints

Requirements for seatbelts in motorhomes

What if I don’t wear a seatbelt?

If you're 15 years or over and drive or ride in a vehicle without wearing seatbelt 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 seatbelt or child restraint.

Keeping young passengers secure

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring all passengers under 15 years are wearing seatbelts 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 seatbelt 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 contact find a child restraint technician.

Requirements for using child restraints in New Zealand

Buying and installing child restraints

Find a child restraint technician

Want to know more?

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

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