Seat belts, baby car seats and helmets

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by tvdxer, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    Are seat belts used by most drivers, some drivers, or few drivers in your country? Are there laws requiring their use?

    In the U.S., I would say most wear them, but many choose not to, young er males especially in my experience. In Minnesota, drivers can be ticketed for not wearing their seat belt.
  2. Montesacro Senior Member

    In Italy it's pretty much the same.
    In addition to a fine drivers not wearing their seat belt will lose some points (I think two) off their driving licence.

    Here in Italy each breach of a Highway Code rule is associated with a precise negative "score": if one scores more than twenty negative points one will lose one's driving licence.
  3. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In Austria fastening your seat belts is obligatory since at least 30 years in the front seats and since probably 10-15 years also in your back seats. In addition to that it is obligatory to have a special children seat for children below a certain age and/or size, and children have to be (I think) 12 years old before they are allowed to sit in the front seats.
    The time since the law exists is very important in terms of sticking to them: most Austrians already have accepted the older laws but are reluctant to stick to the younger ones.

    Now as to how consequently Austrians stick to the rules:
    - the huge majority fastens seatbelts in the front seats
    - the huge majority does not fasten seatbelts in back seats
    - the special seats for children though most people use, some don't but the percentage of acceptance has increased very much over the last few years because the fines for not keeping to the rule were increased drastically

    In Austria there also are, like in Italy, "penalty points" for not keeping to the laws - and this also is one major reason why Austrians are beginning to keep closer to the rules.
  4. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    In Massachusetts (USA) you can actually be stopped by the police and ticketed for not wearing seat belts. I believe this is also true in New York and Connecticut.
  5. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The vast majority of drivers, I would say. They are mandatory in Portugal. For passengers too, as long as there are seat belts available for them in the vehicle.

    It's very similar to what Sokol described above for Austria.
  6. Dandee

    Dandee Senior Member

    Argentina, español
    Hi all:
    In Chile the law requires the use of seat belts. The most of the drivers use them not only in order to obey the law but also for the high safety conscience of the drivers.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2008
  7. sureño Banned

    In Argentina there are more and more drivers aware to use it now. But still there are a lot of them who don’t care. Despite the rate of car accidents is an important issue in this country.
    They are mandatory here too. But Argentineans have the habit to break the laws, and the police control is very deficient.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  8. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    I would be shocked to see someone not wearing a seatbelt here - it is an offence that can lead to fines and points off the license for the driver (even if it is the passenger not wearing a seatbelt, the driver is responsible). Everyone in the car tells you to wear a seatbelt if you're not.

    I've heard that Russian drivers take it as an insult if you, as the passenger, want to wear a belt. I couldn't say whether that's generally true, but on the only two occasions in Russia when I was in a taxi, the taxi drivers tried to stop me putting on a belt - one even (gently) slapped my hand away!
  9. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    I've heard the same is true in Morocco. Probably a bad thing, considering the traffic over there (that I saw).
  10. mirx Banned

    Seatbelts are mandatory in México for as long as I can remember, but many people still refuse to wear them. There are very expensive fines but people still prefer to go driving and looking out for the traffic officer than put them on.

    In rural areas is people hardly ever where seatbelts, in cities most people would, also, it is illegal to have a kid in a front seat but few people know about this law and many more just don't care to follow it.

    In México it's usually only the driver who uses his seatbelt, I don't of any driver getting offended but is a thing most people just won't do.

    When driving in highways and mayor roads most people have a seatbelt.
  11. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    The situation in Australia is the same as in New Zealand, including the driver being legally responsible for everyone in the vehicle wearing a seat belt. Driver training and testing, in metropolitan areas at least, is rigourous, and part of the basic routine that is drummed into every driver is fastening one's seat belt immediately upon sitting in the vehicle. I believe that for most it becomes a matter of habit and is done automatically.
  12. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    France is pretty much like New Zealand in that regard, as far as I know. When driving I don't make sure all my passengers use their seat belt, but I expect them to - and I know I am legally responsible for that.
  13. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    It's pretty much the same in Northern Italy :)
    Over here I'd say that more than the 90% of the people fasten their seatbelts and wear a helmet whereas somewhere else in the country hardly no one wears a helmet and maybe only the half of the folks fasten their seat belts.
    Problem is they are so many people who don't do it that police don't even bother any more.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  14. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    people fasten their seatbelts and wear a helmet

    Do you mean while riding in cars, or only on motorcycles?
  15. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    I mean while riding cars when I'm talking about seat belts and while riding motorcycles or bikes when I'm talking about helmets.
  16. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    In Germany not only mandatory and actually used by all but a few: Also characters in movies and TV-series wear them. Something which is generally not the case in your run-of-the-mill US police show.

    I think it is a bad thing when the media (even involuntarily) make it look "cool" not to care about safety.
  17. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    It's very true that seat belt laws are strictly enforced here in Michigan.

    It's called the "Click it or Ticket" program.

    That name is used in other states, too, isn't it?

    One day this summer, they conducted an intensive watch for seat belt abuse. There were checkpoints all over my local area with groups of policemen standing there, just to check drivers as they went by. Other officers were in their cars ready to go after those who weren't buckled up.

    Whether or not this is overkill (pun intended), wearing a seatbelt does save lives.

  18. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    Seatbelts are required for those in the front seat (or kids under 16 no matter where they're sitting) in New York, but I don't know that anyone actually gets pulled over by the police for not wearing one. However, if you get pulled over for some other reason AND you're not wearing a seat belt, you will get a ticket for the seat belt. The fine is $50, or $100 + 3 points on the license if kids under 16 are involved.

    I think very few people wear seatbelts in cabs, perhaps because they figure it's just a quick trip.
  19. divina Senior Member

    Norristown, PA
    English, U.S.
    What are the laws regarding infant safety seats in your country? Here in the U.S., a baby cannot leave the hospital without a carseat. At least that's what I've heard in some hospitals. It is also illegal for a baby to be riding in a car with no carseat.
  20. mirx Banned

    I don't know about special babyseats like I've seen in other countries, but children are not supposed to be in a front seat by law.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2008
  21. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I guess in Austria the nurses would not even think about controlling wether you do have a baby carseat or not if you are driving the mom with the baby home. And I guess that this is so because Austrian nurses just would assume that you have one.

    It is illegal to transport children up to a certain size in the car unless you have a special carseat for them, further it is also illegal for bigger children to sit in the front seat (I think up to 12 years).

    And as the fines for violating any of these rules are very heavy, as already mentioned, most people comply to them.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
  22. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Just as above: where I live most of the parents use car seats and would never let their children get in a car without a car seat.
    Unfortunately the situation changes progressively the more you move towards south: less people using car seats as if they were not to be used for their kids' safety but only to abide by a law.
  23. clipper Senior Member

    England´s english
    My observations as a British imigrant in Spain is the difference in sentiment towards safety measures such as the ones being discussed.

    I think it is safe to say that the use of seat belts, child seats and helemts is less common in Spain than in the UK but seeing how they are used, and listening to peoples' comments on them here in Spain seems to give the impression that people only use them to avoid being fined or lt least stopped by the police, not because of a sense of self preservation.

    You only have to look at the use of helmets by motorcyclists to see an example (easy as they are more obvios to the eye). Many riders merely perch the helmet on top of their head instead of pulling the chin bar down over their face. Those which do wear it "correctly" often don't fasten the chin strap and it is common for riders to lose their helmets in accidents. It seems to be a case of "doing the minimum to comply".

    This concept would be seen as strange by most British drivers and riders who I believe use the devices as they are intended with self preservation in mind.
  24. MOC Senior Member

    When I lived in Cadiz, Spain, there were a lot of motorcyclists, and I would say without risk of exaggeration, 95% of them don't use a helmet. Some of them, even drove with it as if it was a handbag. They simply didn't care about it.

    Now, I'm not going to say people in Portugal are extremely conscious, cause I don't think most people are. People here do wear helmets and I think the majority fastens their seatbelt, but I also think most people do it because they don't want to get fined. Still, it was very surprising to me, to see how many people didn't even wear a helmet there.
  25. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finland it's obligatory to use seat belts not only in cars and vans but also in buses and trucks if belts are fitted.

    The fine for not using seat belt is 35 euro.

    Also baby seats are mandatory when transporting kids.

    Wearing helmet is mandatory not only for motorcyclists (including ski-doo, ATV and similar vehicle drivers/passengers) but also for bike riders. Bike riders are not fined, though.

    Most of the car drivers and passengers use seat belts: in front seats 86 % in cities and 92 % outside cities; 80 % of back seat passengers used seat belts in 2007.
  26. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    Here, almost every motorcyclist wears a helmet. In smaller towns, it's different, because most people on motorbikes are young lads that don't even have a licence, and many of them can't be bothered to wear a helmet, though some do. I wouldn't ride a motorbike without a helmet, but from my experience in these places accidents involving people dead or seriously injured are rare, as there aren't many cars on the roads anyway. What shocks me is that every time I go to Southern Spain, in Andalusia, I see loads of people riding motorbikes without helmets, or wearing totally useless horse-riding helmets, driving in high-speed motorways. This I have only seen it in Andalusia.
  27. MOC Senior Member

    I agree. I've only seen it in Andalusia too. I've been to pretty much everywhere in Spain for significant amounts of time, and I only noticed that when I lived in Cadiz as I said in my previous post.
  28. elirlandes

    elirlandes Senior Member

    Dublin & Málaga
    Ireland English
    This is absolutely true. In Málaga (city & province) people on small motorbikes and mopeds generally never used to wear any helmet, or if they did, it could be a baseball helmet, horse riding hat etc which were even locally known as "quita-multas" because the police would not give you a ticket if you made that much of an effort.

    Guys on big bikes used to bring a helmet with them, which they would put on when they were getting on to a motorway (more on that in a second). These helmets you would see either strapped to the pillion seat, perched on top of their heads (so the helmet was like a second head growing out of the top of the rider's own head) or the rider would pass his arm through the visor hole and carry it on his elbow while riding.

    Needless to say, accidents used to take a heavy toll on people here. I easily know of 10 or 15 deaths of friends & friends of friends over the years, as well as two guys who lost their arms because they fell while carrying a helmet as above.

    This has TOTALLY changed in the last year. In Málaga now, the police stops & fines EVERYONE, and you will very rarely see anyone without a proper regulation helmet, although often it may not be properly closed around the chin.

    The motorway thing I mention above, reminds me also about seatbelts... pretty much all Spaniards of my generation (35 and younger) wear seatbelts properly now, and will be aware of the need for child seats. We were not allowed to leave the maternity hospital in Málaga without showing we had the proper kit for our baby to go in the car. I would say that 3 years ago, this would not have been at all typical in Spain.

    Older people though still seem to think that seatbelts should only be used when travelling "en careterra" (on freeways/motorways), and you can see people putting them on as they drive down the entry ramp, and take them off on the exit ramp of freeways, as though there is a magic forcefield around them when they are not on motorways so they suddenly become safe...

    BTW... in Ireland, pretty much everyone wears seatbelts & helmets as per regulations... car seats are very much used properly, and are obligatory up to 12 years old / 1m50 tall.
  29. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    Here in Texas it is mandatory for driver and front passenger to wear seatbelts. Any passenger under 17 who is not wearing a seat belt gets the driver a misdemeanor. Any child that fits in a child-restraining-system (baby car seat and booster seats) must be secured, or the driver gets a ticket.

    As a matter of fact, over here, in the pediatric hospitals they won't discharge the baby patients until the parents show the nurse the car seat.

    So there…
  30. Cabeza tuna

    Cabeza tuna Senior Member

    Santiago, Chile
    Chilean Spanish & Chilean Coa
    Yes, here every driver have to use a seabelt, and the person sit next to him/her too, in every car from the 2000 and more the people sit in the back part have to use it too, the kids (less than 14 years old) and pregnants can't go in the front with the driver, and the kids with less than 8 years must use a special car seat.
    The polic will pull you over if they see than you are not using you seat belts or if any of this rules is broke for someone, but the true is the most older rivers dont use their seabelts at all time I see a lot of seniors use their seat belts when they see the police, this weekend a famous chilean football player almost die because the seat belt was "closed" (sorry I dont know the word for that) I mean like if someone was using it but beside of use it he was seat in the seat belt.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  31. clipper Senior Member

    England´s english
    Is it really illegal for a pregnant woman to travel in the front seat of a car ? This would obviously mean that they are prohibited from driving, which seems a bit severe.

    How can this be policed anyway ? How many months pregnant do you have to be in order for it to be against the law ?
  32. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Sweden is similar to Finland: everyone is required to wear a seatbelt in cars, and now also on buses (fitted mainly on long-distance buses, rarely in city buses). The fines for breaking the law are very high.

    One major difference to the rest of the world, it seems, is that we often place babies and young children alone in the front seat of the car, in special car seats fitted backwards. This is the recommended method. The baby seat is fitted snugly against the dashboard, which means that in a frontal crash, there is no stress on the child's body from seat belts - the baby is simply pushed deeper into his/her own seat by the motion energy.

    One major obstacle today is that most modern cars are fitted with airbags, and of course you must disable the airbag if placing a child in the front seat in the above manner! However, most car manufacturers have been reluctant to even make it possible, which is a nuisance often discussed in the press.

  33. Cabeza tuna

    Cabeza tuna Senior Member

    Santiago, Chile
    Chilean Spanish & Chilean Coa

    You are right , I think about that and I remeber than when my mom was pregnant , she drives anyway but just because the stering wheel of the car can be lifted.
    I think than how many month depens of the police officer than stop you but I dont think than the law say: women with x months of pregnancy.
  34. Cabeza tuna

    Cabeza tuna Senior Member

    Santiago, Chile
    Chilean Spanish & Chilean Coa

    Here is illegal put the baby in the front seats because of that, because if you crash and you dont have airbag, ok , no problem, but if you have airbag and it works in a crash probably you are goignt to kill the baby.
  35. Stumpy457 Senior Member

    North Carolina, USA
    I've also noticed this to be true, but in an opposite way, for passenger vans: the big fifteen seaters we take on school and church trips have seat-belts, but we mostly don't wear them cuz it'll be such a LONG trip, and we like to move around the van. Also, I've NEVER seen a school bus that has them...of all things, a SCHOOL BUS, a giant Twinkie of death, doesn't have seat belts...!
  36. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    How odd!:)

    I've never seen nor heard anything like that; I don't go anywhere by taxi, though. Frankly speaking, I rarely go anywhere in a car, so I can't speak for most people here, obviously. But my father, for example, always fastens his seat belt and insists on his passengers' doing the same.

    Fastening seat belts is prescribed by the law, and there's a significant fine for not obeying this law. And it really seems that this fine has made seat belts much more popular with drivers.:)
  37. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Rules are similar in France, except that the one about children seats is stupid. Children must use special seats or boosters not up to a certain size, but until they are 10 years old.
    One year ago, my nephew did not fit in his seat anymore, but my sister and brother-in-law forced him to use that seat - to avoid getting a fine and a bad record in case a policeman would have asked the boy's age.
  38. RIU

    RIU Senior Member


    En la actualidad, segun el RD 965/06 los menores de doce años que superen los 135 cm pueden optar por dispositivos de retención infantiles adecuados a su talla y peso o el cinturón de adultos. Más allá de los 150 cm solo pueden utilizar el cinturón de adultos. Obviamente los mayores de tres años y que no superen los 135 deben ir con sillitas adecuadas a su peso y estatura.

    En cuanto a las motos, circular sin casco por Catalunya es impensable, dado el control policial del que somos objeto, y esto vale también para la retención infantil. Ah! Y sin ánimo recaudatorio, claro está, es que nos quieren un montón.
  39. catlady60

    catlady60 Senior Member

    Nazareth, PA
    English-US (New York City)
    In Pennsylvania, it's mandatory for drivers, front seat passengers, and kids under 18 to buckle up and a secondary violation, which means unbuckled kids and/or front seat occupants of any age can only get a ticket if you're stopped for another traffic violation. Children under 4 have to be in a car seat; you can get a ticket for not having a little kid in a car seat.

    As a matter of fact, I wear my belt not only because it's the law, it also saved my life. 3 months ago, I was involved in a 3-car accident where I not only was rear-ended while I was stopped for traffic, the impact of the collision was so severe I was pushed into the car in front of me!
  40. xmarabout

    xmarabout Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    In Belgium the law (under European rules) are very strict:
    - Everybody has to fasten his/her seatbelt in the car
    - Children beneath 1.20 m have to be on special seats in the car
    - Helmet is mandatory for motorcycle (even small one) and strongly recommended on bicycles;

    You will have a fine if you do not follow those rules.

    Most of the new cars have a kind of bell ringing and ringing if in the front seats the seat belts are not fasten.
    Personnaly, I won't start the car if my passengers do not fasten their seat belts.

    Everything I said here is based on European recommendation so I am suprise with some advices of my neighbours (Italy, Germany, Spain... but that is Europe ;) )
  41. clipper Senior Member

    England´s english
    A few weeks ago my wife and I were asked if we would sign a permission slip allowing the nursery to take our young child (2 and a half yrs old) to the swimming pool with the rest of his class.

    We went to see the tutor and asked how they would take the children there, of course by mini-bus, but when we asked how they would be sat and what seat belts they would use we were met with a blank stare. Clearly we were the first parents to ask this question.

    It sparked off quite a debate at home because we both felt that it would be correct to make a stand and refuse permission on safety grounds (no child seat belts were guaranteed for the 2km trip), on the other hand, the trip would only go ahead if all the children went, so we would have been the cause of cancelling the entire class' swimming trip had we refused.

    I only hope that this has served to make the organisers think about it next time, but I still find it alarming that out of 20 odd sets of parents (to my knowledge all Spanish except us and one French/Spanish family) we were the only ones concerned enough to raise the issue.
  42. Wertis

    Wertis Banned

    Moscow, Russia
    In Russia fastening seat belts is compulsory and has always been so since the beginning of the previous century. I don't drive myself, but many of my friends and acquaintances do and most of them always fasten their belts especially when on a front seat. If a traffic warden sees that your belts haven't been fastened, he stops you and writes a cheque which you have to pay as a fine within several days or weeks (I don't remeber the precise amount of time given for this procedure). If you forget to do it or ignore it advisedly, more serious punishment will follow like, for example, imprisonment for a term of 7 or 15 days or deprivation of driving license (temporarily or permanently depending on the offence and the number of times you were fined before). Very often drivers prefer just to give money to a policeman in order not to waste time going to a bank to pay. It's illegal and is called road bribery in my country. Now fewer policemen take money this way because sometimes there are controls of works and if a camera records the moment when they're taking money, they will be either fined themselves or even imprisoned and dismissed from work.

    Those sitting in front thus have to fasten seat belts, but people at the back may or may not do it. In Russia, as far as I know, it's not compulsory. In other words, it won't be a rule violation if you seat at the back without a fastened belt. The only exception is children. They must fasten seat belts no matter how old they actually are. If a baby is in a car, he can be transported in a small pram or on someone's hands because there is no sense in using seat belts to prevent him from falling down and injurying himself if a car breaks very abruptly or it colides with another vehicle.

    As regards babu helmets and helmets intended for other people, I've never seen them used on the road. Maybe they exist, but they hardly differ from cycling and roller-skating helmets.
  43. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    In Germany and Scandinavia helmets are often worn when riding bicycles, although not mandatory.
    However, what really annoys me is when I see parents having their children wear helmets, but don't care to adjust the straps properly. Usually the helmet is way too far back, thus offering no protection of the forehead. And this way the chin strap even gives way for possible throat injuries in addition to the face injuries it doesn't offer any protection from.

    So parents, please have a closer look at your kid's helmets. It really isn't that difficult. Just requires a few moments of logical thinking.
  44. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finland it's mandatory. See my post #25.
  45. sdr083

    sdr083 Senior Member

    Norwegian (NN)
    The law is the same in Norway. Difference is: the fine is €190 for each person without a seatbelt (and points off your licence). The driver is responsible for anyone under 18.

    Though quite a few adults don't wear seat belts all the time (especially young men ...), most people would find it absolutely unacceptable not to secure children properly. Children shorter than 135 cm should be in special car seats.

    Using a helmet on a motorcycle is normal. Parents will ususally make children wear a helmet when riding a bike, but will not always wear one themselves.

    I spent some time in Costa Rica and was told that there the use of a seat belt is required only for the driver and the passenger sitting in the front seat. I found this rule rather strange - it's not like you'd be safe in a car crash just by sitting in the back ...
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  46. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I'm not accepting the Costa Rican law but I can understand why.

    More than 30 years ago I wrote an article about safety in a car, and according to the statistics, sitting in the back seat was more than twice safer than in the front seat (I can't remember the exact numbers). Of course, at that time we didn't have airbags at all and only a few cars (Volvo and Saab, maybe Mercedes) had standard seat belts for front seats.

    So the situation has changed but still I'm not sure if the seat belts and airbags are obligatory in new cars in Costa Rica today. I'm afraid they're not, and then it's much safer to sit in the back seat.

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