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Just who's exempt from wearing seatbelts?

What are the specific exceptions for seatbelt use under the new laws? Are taxi/limo passengers exempt?

Q: What are the specific exceptions for seatbelt use under the new laws? Are taxi/limo passengers exempt?

A: Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols replies:

Under Ontario’s “one person, one seatbelt” legislation, total occupancy of vehicles is limited to the number of available seatbelts, as unsecured riders are no longer permitted.

Drivers must ensure that passengers under 16 are properly secured in a seatbelt, child car safety seat or booster. Passengers who appear to be 16 or older must provide identification to police for seatbelt enforcement purposes.

“Doubling up” (two or more people using one seatbelt) is prohibited.

Seatbelt exemptions include:

People with a signed medical certificate to that effect.

Workers who must exit and re-enter the vehicle frequently (e.g. trash collection) – provided they are travelling below 40 km/h.

Police or peace officers transporting persons in custody, and those being transported.

Canada Post employees/agents engaged in rural mail delivery.

Anyone driving in reverse.

Ambulance attendants and those in the patient compartment.

Firefighters in the rear of a fire department vehicle.

Taxicab drivers while transporting a passenger for hire. When travelling alone, drivers must wear a seatbelt.

For vehicles not manufactured with seatbelts, exemptions include:

Buses, including school buses.

Other large commercial vehicles, over 4,536 kg, which did not require rear seatbelts at time of manufacture.

Historic vehicles not manufactured with seatbelts.

Drivers and passengers in vehicles manufactured before 1974 are not required to wear shoulder belt restraints, whether or not equipped.

A Highway Traffic Act conviction for a seatbelt violation carries a $110 fine and two demerit points. The penalty applies for improper use (such as placing the shoulder belt behind your back) or failing to ensure that a child passenger is properly secured.

There are no seatbelt exemptions for passengers in taxis – only for the driver when carrying passengers for hire.

Cab drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers under 16 who may be safely secured by a seatbelt alone (over 8 years old, or 80 pounds, or 4-foot-9) are properly secured in a seatbelt. Passengers 16 and older are responsible for buckling themselves up.

Cab drivers are exempt from the child car seat and booster seat requirement when transporting a child passenger for hire. They may be used, if available, but are not currently compelled by law in a taxi.

For the safety of children, it’s advised that parents or caregivers bring along and use child seats or boosters, wherever practical, when travelling by taxi with youngsters.

Taxicab drivers transporting children for personal reasons, or while under contract with a school board or other authority for the transportation of children, are required to comply with the child car seat and booster seat requirements.

The ministry reviews its Road Safety Program on an ongoing basis, including all seatbelt and child car seat exemptions, with a view to tightening up exemptions where it makes sense.


Following an Auto Know article, a letter from a reader published in Yourview suggested that towed vehicles may be stored at collision reporting centres for 24 hours.

York Regional Police state this is incorrect in their jurisdiction and “under no circumstances are collision vehicles to be stored at the (reporting) centre.”

Email non-mechanical questions to Eric Lai at [email protected].

Include year, make, model and km as well as your full name, address and telephone number. Letters may be edited. Letter volume prevents personal replies.

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