Make sure everyone wears a seatbelt
On January 1, 1976 the Province of Ontario passed laws that required all occupants of a vehicle to wear seatbelts. Ontario, lead by Progressive Conservative Premier Bill Davis, was the first Province to enact this law, in an effort to keep occupants of vehicles on the road safe. It is estimated that a driver who is not wearing a seatbelt is more than 40 times more likely to be killed in a crash than one who is properly buckled-up. This law which is now thirty-nine (39) years old has saved over 8,000 lives. Government estimates that over 93% of Ontario drivers now buckle-up.
All Ontario motor vehicle drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt that is:
- properly adjusted
- securely fastened
Drivers are also responsible for ensuring any children who are not big enough or old enough to use a seatbelt are secured in an appropriate child car seat or booster seat.
If you wear a seatbelt properly, you are more likely to survive a crash. Evidence shows that Ontario’s seatbelt law works and has helped strengthen our leading road safety record.
If you are driving, you can face a fine if you or anyone in your vehicle under the age of 16 is not wearing a seatbelt or secured in a proper child seat. If you are convicted, you will:
- be fined between $200 and $1,000
- receive two demerit points – demerit points remain on your driving record for two years
You can also be fined for having a broken seatbelt, even if it is not being used when you’re stopped by a police officer.
- wear your seatbelt so that it crosses your chest and your lower hips – these areas of the body are better able to resist the force of a crash
- make sure you have one working seatbelt for every person in your vehicle
If you’re pregnant, you still need to wear a seatbelt. You should:
- wear both the lap and shoulder belt
- sit as upright as possible
- wear the lap belt low so it pulls downward on your pelvic bones and not across your stomach
- wear any part of your seatbelt twisted – a twisted seatbelt won’t spread the force of a crash across your body to protect you properly
- put the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back
Air bags do not take the place of a seatbelt. They won’t prevent you or your passengers from being thrown out of your car, and they can also injure children.
Passengers over age 16
Passengers who are 16 years of age or older are responsible for buckling up themselves. If you appear to be at least 16 years of age, police officers can ask you for your name, address and date of birth. You will face a fine if you are not using or wearing a seatbelt properly.
Seatbelts in taxis
You must wear a seatbelt whenever you travel in a taxi. Taxi drivers must make sure that their cars have seatbelts in good working order.
The law does not require the taxi driver to provide a child car seat. When travelling in a taxi with a child, you should provide your own child car seat or booster seat.
Seatbelts in Uber Vehicles
You must wear a seatbelt whenever you travel in an Uber vehicle. Uber drivers must make sure that their cars have seatbelts in good working order.
The law does not require the Uber driver to provide a child car seat. When travelling in a Uber vehicle with a child, you should provide your own child car seat or booster seat.
Passengers under age 16
While they’re not required to sit in the back seat, research has shown that children under age 13 are safest in the back seat of motor vehicles away from active airbags.
Exception: Where a back seat is unavailable, or if the back seat is a sideways facing seat, such as in a light-duty truck, children can sit in the front seat only if:
- there is no active airbag for the front seat
- the front air bag can be switched off*
*If there is no switch to turn the air bag on/off, visit Transport Canada for more information on their deactivation program.
You can get information on child passenger safety from your local public health unit.
No seatbelts needed
Seatbelts are not required in the following vehicles:
- buses (including school buses)
- other large commercial vehicles (over 4,536 kg) that don’t require seatbelts to be installed in rear seating positions at the time of manufacture
- vehicles that were manufactured in or imported into Canada before January 1, 1974
- vehicles manufactured without seatbelt assemblies for each seating position
Seatbelts are not required for the following passengers:
- people with medical certificates stating they are unable to wear a seatbelt
- people engaged in work that requires them to exit from and re-enter the vehicle at frequent intervals (must travel less than 40 km/h)
- a person in police custody while being transported, as well as police or peace officers while transporting a person in custody
- employees and agents of Canada Post delivering rural mail
- ambulance attendants and those being transported in the patient’s compartment of an ambulance
- firefighters in the rear of a fire department vehicle while responding to an emergency
- taxi cab drivers while transporting a passenger for hire (when travelling alone in the vehicle, taxi cab drivers must wear a seatbelt)
- anyone legally driving a motor vehicle in reverse
Child Car Seats and Booster Seats
Q1: How do I transport my child with special needs?
You may choose to use a child restraint system. The system must comply with federal safety standards governing alternative restraints for children with special needs (i.e. CMVSS 213.3 and 213.5).
Q2: Can I buy a used child car seat?
It’s best to buy a child car seat new.
If you’re thinking about buying or using a pre-owned child car seat, check it carefully. Make sure it:
- Meets the latest Transport Canada Guidelines and the requirements of Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Act.
- Meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and displays a National Safety Mark. This tells you that the car seat met all safety standards in place when it was made.
- Has its instructions and all necessary hardware.
- Has never been in a collision.
- Has not expired or exceeded its useful life date as determined by the manufacturer (usually 5 to 9 years – check with manufacturer). Remember, child seats and booster seats have expiry dates.
- Has no signs of wear, including discolouration, stress marks or cracks, or worn or torn harness straps.
If a child car seat doesn’t appear to be in good condition, don’t buy or use it.
Q3: Are any drivers or vehicles exempt from Ontario’s child car seat requirements?
Yes. The following drivers are exempt:
- The driver of a taxicab, bus or public vehicle, while transporting a passenger for hire.
- The driver of a motor vehicle that is registered in another jurisdiction and is in Ontario for 30 days or less is exempt from using booster seats until July 1, 2014.
- The driver of an ambulance as defined in section 61 of the Highway Traffic Act.
- Drivers of vehicles equipped with lap belts only are exempt from using booster seats.
Q4: What is the penalty for not using a child car seat or booster seat?
If you fail to secure or improperly secure children in your care, you could be charged and fined in a range of $200 to $1000 and two (2) demerit points on your driving record, for two (2) years, if convicted.
Q5: What are the seatbelt and child car seat requirements in taxis?
As a passenger in a taxi, you need to wear a seatbelt. Passengers 16 years of age or older can face a fine in a range of $200 to $1000 for not wearing a seatbelt.
Taxi drivers are responsible for making sure passengers under the age of 16 are using seatbelts properly. Otherwise, they can be face a fine in a range of $200 to $1000 and two (2) demerit points, for two (2) years, on their driver record, if convicted.
Taxi drivers are exempt from the child car seat and booster seat requirements when transporting passengers for hire, except if they are:
- transporting children for personal reasons
- operating a taxi while under contract with a school board or other authority for the transportation of children.
Q6: What are some types of special needs restraints for transporting children?
Car beds/restraints for premature or low birth weight infants: Infants born at less than 37 weeks or who weigh less than 2,500 g (about 5.5 lbs.) can travel in a car bed if they’re unable to use a conventional rear-facing child car seat.
Snug Seat Hippo: Used by children requiring casts.
EZ-On Vest: These safety vests are designed for children with poor trunk control, certain casts and children diagnosed with a developmental disability. Your child must be at least 2 years old and weigh between 9 and 76 kg (20-168 lbs.).
Modified EZ-On Vest: This safety vest is designed for children who must travel lying down. They are designed for children 2 to 12 years old who weigh between 9 and 45 kg (20-100 lbs.)
Q7: Do I need to carry a doctor’s note when transporting my child with an alternative type of restraint?
No – each child restraint bears a National Safety Mark indicating that it meets all federal safety standards.
Note: When you buy an EZ-On Vest, you will receive a letter from the manufacturer. The vest won’t have a National Safety Mark, so you will need to carry this letter at all times to prove that the vest meets federal standards.
Q8: Do visiting drivers need to follow Ontario’s child car seat and booster seat laws?
If your vehicle is registered in Ontario (including rental vehicles):
- You need to follow all of Ontario’s child car seat and booster seat regulations.
- Your child car seat or booster seat must fully comply with Ontario’s child car seat laws.
If your vehicle is registered in another province or country:
- You are exempt from the booster seat requirement for 30 days. After that, you will need to use the appropriate booster seat. This exemption has been completely removed on July 1, 2014.
- You are not exempt from Ontario’s child car seat rules for transporting infants and toddlers.
You can use a child car seat or booster seat from your home province or country.