Do I have to wear my seat belt?
In recent weeks there have been quite a few fatalities on the roads here in Tenerife in the North and also in the South. Whilst we are not suggesting that the use of seat belts or the lack of use was to blame it seems pertinent to refresh driver and passengers’ memories on this subject.
We are all aware that wearing a seatbelt is obligatory but sadly many people still do not do this. A seatbelt is designed to provide the driver, passengers and animals as well as large objects such as cases and boxes, to travel safely and comfortably in a vehicle (not that boxes have to be comfortable!)
The obligatory use of seat belts was first introduced in Spain in 1975 but many countries have different laws on the use and have been introduced at different times. There is a clear difference between when it became obligatory to wear a seat belt. It was in general obligatory in most countries for front seat belts in the 1970’s, but sometime after for the rear seatbelts to become obligatory was introduced many years later.
Children must always be safely and securely seated in a vehicle not only wearing a seatbelt correctly but also dependent on size, age or height in the appropriate car seat or booster seat. Full details of this can be found on the DGT site if one has any doubts.
Animals may be carried in vehicles, within the law, in the rear of the vehicle when they too are properly secured. This means that they must be restrained with an appropriate dog harness, most of which are linked into the seat belt fixture with a strap. This means that the animal is safe and secure, cannot interfere with the driver’s line of vision or cause a distraction by jumping around etc. If you have a large dog and a suitable vehicle such as a Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo or an estate car, or similar then a dog guard can be purchased and fitted which enables the dog to travel safely in the “boot” area of the said vehicle.
There is of course a correct way of wearing a seat belt, and this is very important, as if not worn correctly it will not provide the appropriate assistance in the case of an accident or sudden stop. You should always wear the seatbelt over your shoulder, pass it immediately down the upper torso of your body and engage it firmly and securely. Do not put it under your arm as this may cause you an injury in the event of an accident and possibly not restrain you correctly. If, like many women especially, you find this position uncomfortable you may purchase from Car accessory shops or online, seatbelt covers that are padded and fit, normally by Velcro, over the belt giving a buffer and making it more comfortable to wear.
Seat belts can also be used to secure large loads or boxes you may be carrying in the rear of the vehicle, that will not fit into your boot.
There are of course fines and sanctions for not wearing a seatbelt, for not wearing it correctly, and for transporting animals without the proper restraints.
You should periodically check the seatbelts for use, fraying, fixing etc to ensure your continued safety when travelling. If you have any doubt that the belt is not working properly or has severe wear then get in touch with your garage and ask them to check and if necessary supply and fit a new one. A second hand one is not recommended as your safety and that of your passengers should be a priority.