Summary of seat belt and child seat law
In Ireland there is a legal obligation to be restrained when travelling in a motor vehicle. This applies to both drivers and passengers. Furthermore, there is an additional onus on drivers to ensure that persons under 17 travelling with them are suitably restrained.
The following vehicles must have seatbelts:
- Passenger vehicles that accommodate less than 8 people (excluding the driver)
- Passenger vehicles that accommodate more than 8 passengers and that have a gross vehicle weight of less than 3,500 kg
- Goods vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of less than 3,500 kg
The law in Ireland states that babies and children under 3 may not travel in a car or goods vehicle (other than a taxi) unless restrained in an appropriate child restraint. A child restraint is a device designed for use by a child weighing 36 kg (A child of 11/12 years) or less. The restraint is fitted directly to a suitable belt or is held in place by the action of a safety belt. An appropriate child restraint is one appropriate to the weight of the child. The weight range is indicated on the child restraint itself.
Rear facing child restraints must not be used in seats protected by an active frontal air-bag and child restraints must be in accordance with EU or UN standards.
Children over 4 years of age may occupy a forward facing front seat of a vehicle only if they are using a safety belt or an appropriate child restraint. Otherwise, they must travel in a rear seat. Passengers aged 3 years or over must wear safety belts where they are fitted, when travelling by bus.
A person aged 12 years or more who is under 150 cm in height is not required to use a seatbelt even if this is provided but they must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars or goods vehicles fitted with safety belts. They are of course free to wear the belt but people under this height are outside the limits of the safety belt design parameters, so there is a possibility that a safety belt could be injurious to them in some circumstances. For this reason, the law allows them to choose for themselves to belt up or not to belt up. This is irrespective of whether they are sitting in the front or back of the vehicle