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South African Law on Wearing of Seatbelts

The South African Law on Seatbelts can be found in Regulation 213 of the National Road Traffic Act. The Act stipulates as follows:


South African Law on Wearing of Seatbelts

Reg 213.    (1)       For the purpose of this regulation—

(a)       an adult is a person over the age of 14 years or taller than one comma five metres;

(b)       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;

(c)        an infant is a person below the age of three years. 

(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 kg, 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).

(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 operated 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)     "(6A) The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that an infant traveling in such a motor vehicle is seated on an appropriate child restraint: Provided that this provision shall not apply in a case of a minibus, midibus or bus operating for reward.".

Ø    Reg  213 (6A) will be in force as from 30 April 2015.

(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.


Penalties for not wearing a Seatbelt  / AARTO Act

July 2014: The latest LEGISLATED penalties UNDER THE AARTO ACT relating to seatbelts are as follows: 

You need to be aware of the following:


1.      AARTO makes provision for a 50% discount if the fine is paid within 32 days, therefore all of the above can be divided by two!

2.      AARTO is ONLY IN FORCE in the jurisdictions of the Johannesburg and Tshwane Metropolitan Police Departments.

3.      Fines in other Magisterial Districts can and probably will differ dramatically.

4.      There are 284 local authorities, 8 Metros and 9 Provincial authorities in South Africa and therefore the disparity between fines may be vast.


In my opinion, the penalties scheduled under AARTO for seatbelt infringements are pathetically low, especially in light of the fact that they carry NO demerit points for the physical (not roadworthy) infringements.  I don’t really care that the fine is applicable to each passenger not wearing a seatbelt since lives and injuries are not cheap.  Someone on Facebook made an awesome suggestion with respect to parents who allow their kids to not wear seatbelts, stand in cars, etc. “Force parents to sign organ donor cards for their kids they allow to stand in cars.”  I must admit that I am very tempted to write this suggestion into my submissions to the Department of Transport the next time I submit legislative comments – not just for children, but for everyone who doesn’t wear a seatbelt!  At least that way we could put the wasted lives to good use!

Howard Dembovsky

National Chairman - Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

Also view:

Seatbelt Safety

Child Restraints and Road Safety

Pregnancy and Seatbelts

Seatbelt Study


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