Department of State GrowthTransport

Seatbelt Exemptions

It is compulsory to wear a seatbelt in Tasmania.  

Prior to September 2017, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles issued exemptions from wearing a seatbelt to drivers and passengers upon advice from a Medical Practitioner.  From September 2017, the rules have changed and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles no longer issues exemptions.  After September 2017, a medical practitioner can provide a passenger or driver with a medical certificate which exempts them from wearing a seatbelt.

What happens if I have a current Seatbelt Exemption from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles?

The Registrar of Motor Vehicles will write to everyone who currently holds and seatbelt exemption and advise them of the change in rules and what this will mean for them.

All current Seatbelt Exemptions issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles will remain valid for a period of 12 months from September 2017.  

After October 2018, anyone who cannot wear a seatbelt for medical reasons, must carry a current medical certificate issued by their medical practitioner when driving or travelling in a vehicle.

Obtaining a Seatbelt Exemption from a Medical Practitioner:

Medical Practitioners can issue drivers and passengers, who meet strict medical guidelines, with a medical certificate that exempts them from the requirement to wear a seatbelt.  The reason for the exemption must meet the National "Assessing Fitness to Drive" guidelines.  

If you believe that you have a medical condition which requires an exemption from wearing a seatbelt, you will need to visit your medical practitioner and discuss your condition with the medical practitioner.  If your medical practitioner assess that your requirements comply with the medical requirements, they may issue you with a medical certificate which exempts you from wearing a seatbelt.

The medical practitioner may put certain conditions upon the medical certificate, such as it may only be issued for a defined period of time or require regular reviews need to be undertaken. This will be at the discretion of the medical practitioner and based upon your individual circumstances.

If a medical certificate is issued to exempt a person from wearing a seat belt, the medical certificate must be carried on the person, (driver or passenger) at all times whilst travelling in a vehicle and presented upon request from an authorised person, such as a Police Officer.

Please consider your particular needs carefully when requesting a medical certificate to exempt you from wearing a seatbelt.

All Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions and peak medical bodies have endorsed strict medical guidelines under which exemptions may be granted. Studies have indicated that if you do not wear a seatbelt your chances of being killed or severely injured in a motor vehicle crash are far higher than if you have been wearing a seatbelt.

What you need to know before obtaining a medical certificate to exempt you from wearing a seatbelt:

Why seatbelts are necessary

  • It is a well proven fact that the chances of being injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes are significantly higher for unrestrained drivers and passengers. Studies have indicated that unrestrained occupants are over three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident than those who wear seatbelts.   
  • Medical advice suggests there are very few medical conditions that prevent the wearing of a seatbelt (see Medical Guidelines for Medical Practitioners)

  • All Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions and peak medical bodies have advised they only support the granting of exemptions to people who have certain medical conditions. (see Medical Guidelines for Medical Practitioners)

Alternative seatbelts

Custom seatbelts, which are specifically designed to meet the requirements of people unable to wear standard seatbelts, should be carefully thought about when considering whether to seek a medical certificate exempting a person from wearing a seatbelt.  

Custom seatbelts are manufactured to meet special requirements and provide individual fitting. Modified belts can remove pressure from sensitive areas and ensure a comfortable fit while maintaining a safety standard compatible with standard seatbelts.

All modifications to seatbelts are required to be inspected by an Approved Inspection Station (AIS).

Medical Guidelines for Medical Practitioners

Medical practitioners should refer to the "Assessing Fitness to Drive" guidelines, before assessing a person in relation to obtaining a seatbelt exemption.

A) Situations where medical reasons could be considered valid for seatbelt exemption:

Musculoskeletal conditions and deformities

Severe abnormal skeletal conditions such as; rheumatoid spondylitis, ankylosed major joints, deformity or fusion of the spine or major joints, other gross musculoskeletal deformities, or orthopaedic devices such as body casts may make it impossible to fasten a seatbelt properly. In such conditions an exemption may be considered.

People with a physical disability

People with a physical disability benefit from the use of seatbelts because of the stabilisation provided. The guidelines for musculoskeletal conditions and deformities also apply to persons with physical disabilities.

Special height and weight conditions

Persons less than 5 feet (or 153cm) and those extremely obese will require modification of the seatbelt system subject to meeting the Australian Design Rule Standards (i.e. special restraints are available for children.) If this is not possible, consideration may be given to granting an exemption.

B) Situation where no valid medical reason exists for seatbelt exemptions:

Scars

Well healed scars on chest and abdomen are not harmed by properly fitted seatbelts. Recent tender or painful scars can be protected by a padding taped to the skin over which the seatbelt lies.

Pacemakers

Seatbelts do not cause discomfort to the pacemaker wearer or damage the pacemaker itself. After recent implantations the still tender surgical wound can be protected by a foam pad taped to the skin.

If the wearer of a pacemaker has received a direct compression force from the seatbelt, they should, as a precaution, have the pacemaker checked for any malfunction.

Ileostomies and colostomies

Abdominal stomata in persons of average size and build do not interfere with the use of a correctly fitted seatbelt. If involved in a motor vehicle crash when wearing a seatbelt there can occasionally be irritation to the exposed mucosa causing bleeding and even some mucosal tearing. However, such injuries are relatively minor when compared with the injuries that would have been sustained if a seatbelt had not been worn.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy, irrespective of stage, is not a valid reason for exempting seatbelt use. Studies of pregnant women wearing seatbelts involved in motor vehicle crashes have not shown any increase in injuries to the foetus, foetal loss or abortion as a result of proper use of a seatbelt.

It is important that pregnant women be instructed to position seatbelts properly - the lap part to lie comfortably below the anterior superior iliac spines and the diagonal (sash) part across the costal margin, the sternum and clavicle. In this way compression of the uterus by the restraint is avoided.

Psychological conditions

Persons with severe claustrophobic symptoms can be helped to accept seatbelts by an explanation of their benefits and by demonstration of the use of seatbelts as part of the operation of the motor vehicle.

Assessment of exemptions

The Registrar of Motor Vehicles NO LONGER issues exemptions from the requirement to use a seat belt whilst travelling in a motor vehicle.

To obtain an exemption you will need to contact your Medical Practitioner (Doctor).  Your doctor will determine if you meet the medical requirements and will issue you with a medical certificate which exempts you from the requirement to wear a seatbelt.  You will need to carry the medical certificate with you whilst driving or travelling in a motor vehicle.