Securing yourself, children and loads

Keep yourself, your passengers and loads safe

It’s important to know the rules to ensure that yourself and any passengers are safely wearing their seatbelts and in an appropriate seat
when travelling in a vehicle. And if you are moving house with a trailer, taking a load of rubbish to the local tip in the back of a ute,
or are driving a commercial vehicle carrying heavy loads, you are required to secure your load appropriately.

Securing yourself as a driver

A driver must wear a seat belt properly adjusted and fastened whether the vehicle is moving, or stationary, if the seating position is fitted with a seat belt (which all passenger vehicles since 1971 should have).  Drivers do not have to wear seat belts when the vehicle is parked or reversing – but wearing a seat belt when reversing is safer.

It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that all passengers, including children and adults, are wearing a child restraint or a seatbelt. The driver can be booked for failing to do so. This rule does not apply to the driver of a bus, or a taxi with passengers of 16 years old or older.

Securing passengers

The rules require all passengers in a motor vehicle to be restrained in a seating position, and not sharing the seat with anyone else. This means that once all seating positions fitted with seatbelts are occupied, no additional passengers may be carried in the vehicle. For example a car with five seats and five seatbelts must only have a maximum of five people travelling in it.

‘Vintage’ cars do not have an exemption from the new child restraint rules for children under seven or the rules that prohibit children less than seven years sitting in the front seat (see child restraints). Only passengers seven years or older will continue to be exempt from wearing a seatbelt in a seating position that is not required to have a seatbelt fitted in a vintage vehicle.

Any person travelling in a car with a child under the age of seven years must ensure the child is in an approved, properly fitted and appropriate child restraint. This may require anchorage points or seatbelts to be installed, or if this is not possible require the child to travel in another vehicle.

Pregnant women are required to wear seatbelts, because in the event of a crash, it is much safer for mother and baby.  Visit our Safe Driving page for information about wearing a seatbelt while pregnant.

Exemptions

The driver of a taxi is exempt from the above requirement for passengers under one year of age only if there is no suitable child restraint available and the child is not in the front seats. Children aged 1 year and older must be in their own seat, with their seatbelt properly fastened if no child restraint or booster seat is available.

This exemption applies only to taxis, not other rideshare services such as Uber, GoCatch, Taxify, DiDi or Ola. Child restraints and booster seats are legally required when using a rideshare service.

RACV recommends that children should always use a child restraint or booster seat until they are 145cm tall. Unfortunately  most taxi companies in Victoria do not have child restraints fitted in the vehicle, or have them available for customers to hire or use. However, taxis are required to have at least one anchorage point in the vehicle so that customers can use their own restraint. It is recommended that parents/carers should take along a suitable restraint to use in a taxi to ensure maximum protection for the child.

Some other limited exemptions to seat belt use also exist, but these are restricted to people engaged in door-to-door services such as garbage collection and people with medical disabilities.

Securing a load

Lost loads are an unnecessary risk to driver safety. They can lead to long delays for motorists when lanes may be blocked or even roads closed. Under Victoria’s Road Rules it is an offence not to have a load secured properly. But what does this mean?

A load is secured properly if it is secured in a way that will prevent any part of the load from:

  • hanging or projecting from the vehicle in a manner that may cause injury or damage to a person or property, or cause hazard to other road users, or
  • becoming dislodged or falling from the vehicle.

A load is also required to be secured in a way that does not make the vehicle unstable or unsafe. 

If part of a load falls onto the road, the rules state that the driver must remove the item, or take action to have the item removed from the road as soon as can be done so safely.

  • If you are on CityLink, report debris by calling 13 26 29.
  • If you are on EastLink, report debris by calling (03) 9955 1400 (Monday-Friday 7am-6pm; closed public holidays)
  • On other roads across the state call VicRoads on 13 11 70 (24 hours a day/7 days per week).

Whether your load is a boat, bedroom furniture or autumn prunings - it is important to make sure the vehicle is legally allowed to carry the weight and is maintained in good mechanical condition. Check the manufacturers handbook for weight specifications. When driving, remember your vehicle is less manoeuvrable and will take longer to stop.