All car drivers and passengers in Queensland are required to wear seat belts
A driver will be penalized with a fine and demerit points if he is caught driving without a seat belt. The driver will also be penalized if he carries passengers below 16 years of age who are not wearing seat belts or approved child restraints. A passenger may also be penalized for not wearing a seat belt but the penalty for a passenger is only a fine and not demerit points.
The governing law for the seat belt requirement is the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 1999. The Queensland government has been strict in the enforcement of the seat belt requirement because of studies which show that wearing a seat belt improves a person’s chance of surviving a car crash. Part of the program of the government aside from catching violators is information dissemination on the dangers of not wearing a seat belt.
There are exceptions to the requirement of wearing a seat belt and these are if:
- There is no seat belt to the seat that you are in and there is no other seat belt available in the vehicle;
- You are the driver and you are reversing;
- You have a doctor’s certificate that says you cannot wear a seat belt; or
- You are a taxi driver.
To charge a person with violating the seat belt requirement he must be caught in the act of not wearing a seat belt or allowing his passenger to ride the vehicle not wearing a seat belt. As for allowing a passenger below 16 years to not wear a seat belt the accused can raise the defence that he did not know his passenger was aged below 16 years. The accused may also show proof of the existence of at least one of the exemptions to the seat belt requirement.
The penalties for the violation are actually minor. If the driver immediately pays the fine and chooses not to contest the imposition of the demerit points the violation will not reach the courts. Many violators opt to just pay the fine and accept the demerit points since a court case will mean time, money and effort on their part. However, accumulation of demerit points might lead to more serious consequences like loss of license or disqualification from driving.
The following table details the updated penalties for failing to wear a seat belt.
Driver fail to wear seat belt
Passenger 16 years old or older occupy position without seat beltwhen one available
Passenger 16 years old or older fail to wear seat belt
Passenger 16 years old or older if in front seat when no seat beltsfitted and other seating available
Driver motor vehicle while passenger 1 year old unrestrained
Driver motor vehicle while passenger 1 - 16 year old unrestrained
Driver taxi not fitted with child restraint while passenger 1 year oldin front seat
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