How to Wear a Seatbelt Properly

Seatbelt graphicDuring 2010, vehicle occupants in British Columbia were surveyed by Transport Canada and found to have a 97%+ seatbelt wearing rate. This was determined by a 2 hour observation period during daylight hours between September 15 and 21 at 286 sites across the country.

Today, Transport Canada simply says that 95% of vehicle occupants use their seatbelts and ICBC no longer publishes data on how many crash victims were not wearing a seatbelt. Despite this, police in B.C. issued more than 12.600 tickets for occupant restraint violations in 2021.

Seatbelts are still your first line of defence in a collision and here is how to wear them properly:

Properly Worn Seatbelt

This person is wearing the seatbelt correctly.

  • lap belt low and snug across the hips
  • shoulder belt over the shoulder and across the chest

The strong bones of the hips and shoulder are best able to resist the restraining forces during a collision.

Seatbelt Worn Too Loosely

This person is not wearing the seatbelt correctly!

  • in a crash you would move forward too much
  • possible facial injury from striking steering wheel or dashboard
  • decreased airbag effectiveness

The shoulder belt should fit against your body!

Seatbelt Worn Under Arm

This person is not wearing the seatbelt correctly!

  • severe injury to the liver and spleen may result
  • increased chance of head and neck injury
  • too much collision force is applied to the ribs

Never wear the shoulder belt under your arm!

Seatbelt Worn Twisted

This person is not wearing the seatbelt correctly!

  • the full width of the belt is required to spread the collision forces across the body

Never wear a twisted belt!

Seatbelt Worn While Reclined

Reclining while the vehicle is moving is dangerous!

  • possible neck injury from the shoulder belt
  • possible internal injury from the lap belt
  • possible to slide out from under the seatbelt

Never recline your seat when moving!

Seatbelt Worn While Pregnant

The best way to protect the baby is to protect the mother!

Always wear your seatbelt properly when you are pregnant!

A traffic ticket for not properly wearing a seatbelt in British Columbia is $167.00


Medical Exemption

Section 220(5)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Act that allowed for an exemption from wearing a seatbelt on medical grounds was repealed in 2010.

Child Restraints

Division 36.09 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations provides the possibility of a medical exemption from being required to use a child restraint for a driver who:

(d) who is in possession of and produces on request to a peace officer a valid and subsisting certificate issued by a medical practitioner certifying that the child is unable for medical or physical reasons to wear or be fitted into an infant or child restraint system, booster seat or seat belt assembly, including a child who does not fit within the specifications of any manufactured infant or child restraint system or booster seat that is available for purchase,


All exemptions will be considered in reference to Section 17 of the Guide to Physicians in Determining Fitness to Drive a Motor Vehicle. This is a publication of the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

British Columbia seatbelt law:

The seatbelt graphics on this page are © General Motors of Canada and have been used with permission.

There is no recorded instance of a vehicle occupant who was wearing a seatbelt being killed in an automobile crash where the vehicle was travelling at or under 80 km/hr.  

So, you know, they do work.