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Seat belts explanation

Feb 6, 2015

Source: infopolitie.co.uk

As of April 1, 2008, the rules for the use of seat belts were further tightened. As of May 1, 2008, the number of seat belts present determines how many adult passengers may be transported.

  1. General
    1. Wheelchair occupants
    2. Cab wheelchair transport
    3. Loose objects
    4. Transport more passengers than seat belts present
    5. Front airbag and rear-facing child seat
    6. Autobuses
    7. Who is punishable
    8. Exceptions to the carrying obligation
  2. Summary
    1. For adults and children 1.35 meters and taller
    2. For children, general
    3. For children in the back
    4. For passengers, seated in a wheelchair
    5. Airbags
    6. Cab


The duty to wear seat belts present in motor vehicles remains. A seat belt need not be used if it is not present or is present but already used by others. As of 01-01-2006, children under the age of 3 must use a child restraint system.

The limit as to the age of 12 years and as to the length of 1.50 meters in connection with the obligation to use a child restraint system has been dropped. Instead, the limit is now set at children with a body height of 1.35 meters.

The reason is that in most modern cars it is possible to adjust the shoulder section of the seat belts in such a way that the required protection can also be provided to passengers with a body height of 1.35 meters or more. If this is not possible or not enough, so that in a child, even if he or she is taller than 1.35 meters, the shoulder part runs over the neck instead of over the shoulder or if the hip part of the belt is too high and therefore runs over the belly, it is recommended to use an approved booster seat.

No devices should be used that make the belt looser around the body. Also, with the exception of the provisions of Article 59(7), second sentence, RVV 1990, no non-original (belonging to the vehicle or the approved child restraint system) devices that affect the course of the belt across the body may be used.

Wheelchair occupants

New are the rules regarding the safe transportation of wheelchair occupants. The RVV 1990 was supplemented as of 01-01-2006 in the sense that, except in buses not equipped with seat belts, the driver is prohibited from transporting passengers in wheelchairs if the wheelchair is not properly secured with a seat belt that is not part of the wheelchair.

That announcement was prompted by the Transportation Inspectorate’s report “Control of Wheelchair Transport 2004.” That report found that in 90% of cases involving wheelchair transport in cabs and buses, the safety of transporting the occupant of that wheelchair was not guaranteed.

Unlike other passengers, in which the seat belt need only be used if it is available, with respect to passengers seated in wheelchairs, the requirement is made that, unless public transportation is involved, a seat belt must always be used.

The reason for mandating the use of a seat belt that is not part of the wheelchair lies in the fact that crash tests have shown that the belts belonging to the wheelchair spontaneously break off and that these belts can only be used as belts to support the posture. In connection with the development of wheelchairs with integrated safety belts and restraint systems adapted to them, it is considered desirable to keep open the possibility of making exceptions to this. The requirements for this may be established by ministerial regulation.

Cab wheelchair transport

The obligation to use the relevant safety belt does not apply in cases of public transport and during cab transport, other than in cases of contract transport and other than when transported in cabs that are not equipped for wheelchair transport in accordance with the requirements set out in the Regulation on Permanent Requirements for Taxis pursuant to section 80, subsection 3, of the Decree on Passenger Transport 2000.

Loose objects

Loose objects in a vehicle are a concern. These objects can be hurled through the vehicle like projectiles during unexpected movements or an emergency stop. There is a high risk of injury in the process. It was therefore recommended that an article be included regarding the securing of goods.

Transport more passengers than seat belts present

What is new is that as of May 9, 2008, in cars with belts in the front and/or rear seats, no more passengers may be carried in these seats than there are belts. In the old regulations, this restriction did not exist. If the available seat belts were in use, the remaining passengers were allowed to be carried “loose.”

Front airbag and rear-facing child seat

Children should not be transported in a rear-facing child seat in a passenger seat equipped with a front airbag, unless the airbag is deactivated or automatically deactivated in an adequate manner, because an unfolding airbag could cause the seat to be thrown backwards with force, posing a high risk of serious injury.

“Rear-facing” is in a direction opposite to the vehicle’s normal direction of travel.


In the Netherlands, the use of seat belts and child restraint systems provided in buses was already mandatory in the same way as in passenger cars. Now separate rules are being introduced for buses.

If no child restraints are present or if all present child restraints are occupied, a passenger shorter than 1.35 meters may also use a seat belt. Passengers aged 0 to 3 years are not required to use a security device.

As in the case of child restraint systems in other motor vehicles, the child restraint systems present in buses must be approved in accordance with the provisions of the Child Restraint Regulations.

What is new is that passengers on buses must be made aware that they must wear the seat belt when seated and the vehicle is participating in traffic. This means that the bus is moving or stopped for a short time, such as at a traffic light. Making this known can be done in several ways specified in the article. One is to put a pictogram on each seat. The pictogram consists of a white image of a person, using a three-point belt, on a blue background.

Who is punishable

Because criminal liability of children under the age of 12 is not possible, the eighth paragraph makes the driver liable for compliance with the use of restraint devices by children under the age of 12.

In the case of transportation of passengers seated in wheelchairs, they are often disabled to such an extent that it is impossible for them to employ the belt in question by themselves. For this reason, the correct use of the seat belt (which, should not be part of the wheelchair) is the responsibility of the driver.

Exceptions to the carrying obligation

Cab drivers already had an exemption in the RVV 1990 during cab transport. Because of the risk of being mugged by passengers, a cab driver must be able to exit the vehicle quickly. Therefore, in case no passengers are carried, the exemption does not apply either.

Nor does the exemption apply in cases where passengers are transported where the rate for that transport has been agreed in writing (contract transport). In these cases, the risk of robbery is virtually zero because there is no handing over of cash in the cab itself for the transportation service to be performed or provided.

The Minister of Transportation is authorized to grant exemptions from the use of seat belts and child restraint systems. This power is mandated by the Minister in Article 2, paragraph 1, of the CBR Mandate Regulation to the Central Bureau of Driving Licenses (CBR) Foundation. Before that, the CBR was already involved in the waiver process since the medical certificate required for that waiver was issued by the CBR.

This decision has made use of some of the other possible exemptions provided by the directive. It concerns the use of restraints in buses, used for urban and regional transport, within built-up areas (article 59b, second paragraph, RVV 1990) and the possibility in passenger cars and vans to transport more persons on seats other than the front seats than there are seats available with seat belts and child restraints (article 59b, third paragraph, RVV 1990).

This is a temporary exception, designed primarily to provide large families with a transition period to purchase a car with more seats. In connection with the prohibition of the transportation of persons in trailers and cargo spaces of motor vehicles and mopeds (Stb. 198), a ban was introduced on the transportation of persons in or on trailers behind motor vehicles or mopeds and in open or closed cargo spaces of motor vehicles or mopeds. The exemption from Section 59b(3) of RVV 1990 therefore does not apply to seats in a loading space.

There may be circumstances in which a child smaller than 1.35 meters cannot reasonably be required to have a child restraint available. These include transportation to away games of youth teams, where the driving parents will not have seats with them for all children, or a ride to the doctor with a neighbor’s child.

The fourth paragraph of Article 59b exempts the use of child restraints for such transportation. In order to prevent parents from transporting their children without child restraints with the excuse that it is a short occasional ride, the exemption does not apply to parents.


Children must not be transported using a rear-facing child seat in a seat with an airbag in front of it unless the airbag has been deactivated (manually or automatically). The seat may be forcefully bumped backward by the airbag, resulting in potentially serious injury to the child.


The essential changes from the “old” rules are as follows:

For adults and children 1.35 meters and over:

The age limit of 12 years will be removed. There are children (persons under the age of 18) and adults. The proper operation of the belts must not be impeded, for example by using belt clips or by routing the shoulder section behind the back. However, adults less than 5 feet tall and children up to 5 feet tall for whom no approved child restraint system is available may use a belt guide if necessary to allow the belt to pass over the shoulder.

No child restraints are approved for children over 36 kg. This does not mean that all approved child restraints are unsuitable for children over 36 kg. They may therefore be used by these children.

Unless this creates a manifestly unsafe situation. Alternatively, they can use the seat belt or seat belt with a belt guide. Further requirements may be imposed on such a belt guide by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

Until now, the available belts always had to be used. Under the new rules, seat belts do not have to be used in buses with standing places and within built-up areas in buses operating urban or regional transport according to a schedule.

For children, general:

The length above which the use of a child restraint is no longer mandatory is changed from 1.50 meters to 1.35 meters. This is in reference to the ability in many modern cars to adjust the height of the shoulder section. Nevertheless, if the shoulder part runs over the neck instead of over the shoulder, even if the child is taller than 1.35 meters, it is still wise to use a booster seat.

Child restraints must belong to a type approved according to ECE Regulation 44, version 03 or later or according to the equivalent EU Directive 77/541/EEC. Thus, child restraint systems with “antique” approval may no longer be used. Child restraints that are not approved at all should also not be used. Until now, an approved child restraint system had to be used if present. That left room to use an unapproved child restraint system.

For children in the back:

Until now, children up to 3 years old were still allowed to be transported separately in the back seat and children 3 years old and older in seat belts, if any. What’s new is that children up to 3 years old can only be transported if they use an approved child restraint system, except in cabs and buses.

Children aged 3 years and older who are smaller than 1.35 meters must use an approved child restraint if seat belts are provided, with some exceptions.

For passengers, seated in a wheelchair

Until the entry into force of this decree, there were no rules tailored to the transportation of passengers seated in wheelchairs. From now on, passengers seated in wheelchairs must always and properly use a seat belt. This involves the seat belt, which is not part of the wheelchair.

Exception: public transportation, cabs not equipped for wheelchair transportation and cab transportation other than contract transportation.


In a passenger seat with a front airbag, children may not be transported in a rear-facing child seat unless that airbag is deactivated. Whether automatic shutdown is sufficient. The airbag can cause the seat to be thrown backward with force, potentially causing serious or fatal injury to the child.


The compulsory wearing of seat belts and child restraints already had an exception for cab drivers during cab passenger transport under the old Section 59, fifth paragraph, RVV 1990. This exception has been retained in Article 59(3) RVV 1990, unless contract transportation is involved.

If no child restraint systems are installed in the cab, no children smaller than 1.35 meters may be transported in the front seat; even if the front seat is equipped with a seat belt. Directive 2003/20/EC, in this situation, favors transportation of children in the back seat over transportation of children in the front seat, even if they can use a seat belt in the process.

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