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Seat Belts

Volume 33: debated on Tuesday 7 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, in order to secure uniformity of application, he will issue a specific list of medical conditions which doctors can certify as complying with exemptions from the compulsory wearing of seat belts.

The legislation provides that decisions on medical exemptions from compulsory seat belt wearing rest with individual doctors. However, I believe that doctors should have some guidance and that it is more appropriate that this should come from the profession itself. The Medical Commission on Accident Prevention has, therefore, issued guidelines. These are in general terms and do not list specific conditions as qualifying for exemption, because the commission considers that decisions depend on the circumstances in each individual case.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the reasons why he will not seek to amend the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1982 to allow the next of kin and close relatives of persons who have been killed because of wearing seat belts to apply to him for a certificate of exemption.

There has been lengthy and thorough consultation on the regulations. Now that Parliament has approved them, I do not think that as a general principle we should seek to amend them before they have even come into operation. Nor am I persuaded that this particular exemption would be justified. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove in each individual case that wearing a seat belt was the cause of death, and the general advantages of seat belt wearing are such that compulsion should apply except in cases where wearing is impracticable or inadvisable on medical grounds.