Motorhome seat belt regulations explained

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  1. David Fenwick says:

    Hi I have a 1986 talbot express motorhome that has 4 forward facing seat with sear belts how ever the two rear seats convert to side bench seats, would it be legal to carry 4 adult passengers sitting sideways (inward) with out any seat belts?

    Thank you

  2. Phil Ashcroft says:

    Hello, I hope you can help with two questions following on from this article.
    1) What is the date of manufacture of a campervan? For example if a panel van first registered before 1982 is converted to a campervan after 2006, what is its date of manufacture for the purpose of these regulations? Similarly for panel vans registered between 1982 and 1988, and vans registered between 1988 and 2006 but converted after 2006 when do they count as manufactured.
    2). When a rock ‘n’ roll bed is fitted now as part of a van conversion to a van first registered in 2010 does the bed need to be “crash tested” to be permitted to carry passengers?
    Thanks

    • Hi Phil,

      Thanks for getting in touch. As always, I referred your query to Tim Booth. He’s advised that you contact the DVSA for clarification on this.

      He adds: “The manufacturers date will almost always be the vehicle’s data of first registration, as advised in the DVLA V5 document. However, I would suggest that where a ‘conversion’ from an original build to a new classification takes place that the DVSA may then seek to ensure that the Regulations that were in place on the date of the ‘conversion’ should be those that are complied with.

      This would be a matter for DVSA as ‘the enforcers’, after all, in all considerations, it cannot be emphasised enough that the most important thing is not the Regulations but the safety and security of the passengers being carried in any converted vehicle.

      With regard to the Rock n roll beds, I have looked at the various sites that promote this product – these state that they are Crash tested – but I could find no link to any ‘Certification’ that confirms the crash test capability – Thatcham / TUV / MIRA etc. As I said before, the crucial part of this type of conversion is what the seats / beds are secured to as this is what will provide the safety for the passengers.

      I would suggest that the Basic IVA process may require relevant certificates to be presented at time of inspection.

      I note that on these ‘sites’ the seat belts referred to have, on their own manufacture’s sites, reference to the relevant Approval Standards.”

      I hope this helps.

      Regards
      Lucie

  3. Michael Treier says:

    Hi,
    We’ve got a Ford Transit Elnagh Motorhome 1995 with 5 seats registered of which 4 seats have a 3-points seatbelt. The seat without a seatbelt is a reverse one and had a sticker when we bought it. Now the seat sticker has gone off.
    1) Is it legal to seat anybody on this?
    2) do I need to replace the sticker?
    Thanks for your reply!

    • Hi Michael,

      I passed your query to leisure vehicle securty expert, Tim Booth. He’s come back with the following advice:

      “This motorhome sits in the 01/04/1982 to 30/09/1998 rules. I note that the reference is to a rearward facing seat. Strangely the legislation always refers to ‘forward facing’ seats but nevertheless the benefit of securing a passenger to the vehicle by way of a restraint has to been in the best interest of passengers.

      If the sticker says not to use the seat – then that is the answer to the question, if it said the seat could be used without a restraint then that also answers the question. If practical, I would look to see if a lap belt could be fitted to this seat to seek to secure any passenger using it – whilst this would not be suitable for any child restraint system to fix to it would certainly provide a much safer provision for any other passenger.”

      Hope that helps

      Many thanks

      Lucie

  4. Paul says:

    Hi Lucie,
    I have a 2011 Kontiki 659 a four birth motorhome but has driver and passenger front seat belts, with two bench seating inward facing one on each side, we would now like to take the grand children with us on action, am I able to have belts fitted to these inward facing seats, there are companies that offer this service, would these be legal or not ??

    • Hi Paul, I’ve just checked this out with Tim Booth. Three point belts are required for securing children and you can’t use side facing seats of this motorhome age. So I’m afraid this would be illegal on a number of fronts. Sorry it’s not the news you were looking for.

  5. jacqui cooper says:

    Hi we have a Mercedes Berkshire 59 reg 6 berth, it has two front facing seats with the appropriate belts. Our problem lies with the other 4 passengers! We have side facing and front facing bench style seats in the back!

    1.. Is it illegal in Europe to travel in the rear without belts?
    2.. Can belts be fitted to this model?

    Any help and advice would be much appreciated..Thx

    • Hi Jacqui,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I referred your query to leisure vehicle security expert Tim Booth.

      The two front facing seats are fine yes, but it’s illegal to seat passengers side facing when in Europe. With regards to the rear bench seats, you will need to check with the manufacturer. If there are mounting points sufficient to fit seat belts then you have option of using either a lap belt or a three point belt – if you intend to use these rear seats to carry children though, they must use a three point version.

      Hope this helps.

      Many thanks

      Lucie
      Caravan Guard

  6. Bob says:

    I have been reading your answers regarding side facing seats and the law.
    My understanding even though the regulations are vague,the driver has a responsibility or duty of care for the safety of their passengers while travelling. Under these guidelines it is an offence and you can be prosecuted, resulting in heavy fines.I was also aware that insurance companies can use this clause for not paying out.I would be grateful if you could shed any light on this as I am sure yhis affects many users.

    • Hi Bob,

      Indeed that’s correct. If the driver is thought to have been caught being negligible an insurance company may have grounds to dispute the claim. We’ll have more information on this topic here on the blog next week. I’ll keep you posted.

      Many thanks

      Lucie

  7. Marion says:

    Hi,we are looking at buying a motor home that has 2 front facing seats with 3 point belts and 2rear facing seats with lap belts, which seats would be safest for children under 12 ?

  8. Mark Williamson says:

    Hi Lucie
    I have a Laika six berth A class motorhome registered Sept 2006.
    I only have the front two seats that face forward (these are obviously fitted with belts) but the other four seats for my passengers are bench seats that face each other and not forward. They are not fitted with belts at all. The van was made in Italy for the UK (righthand drive) and I presume EU spec .
    1 As my van was registered after Jan 2006 how do I stand ?
    is it still legal for me to carry my for passengers and if so
    2 Do they have to be over 3yrs old ?
    3.Can a 3yr old be fastened in the front passenger seat using an appropriate chair ?
    4.Am I legal carrying passengers when traveling in Europe? (The van was made in the EU by a very reputable company, surly they built to EU spec)

    Thanks
    Mark

    • Hi Mark, I’ve put your query to our safety and security expert Tim Booth who works for AVCIS (See http://avcis.police.uk/ for details)

      I’ll let you know what he comes back with.

      Thanks
      Lucie

    • Hi Mark,

      Tim Booth has got back to me on this.

      He says, “The carriage of passengers in a safe ‘mode’ is be the important part – exposing them to risk of injury is the major factor. Your 3 yr old would need to be in a child seat that is approved for both the weight and height of the child – there is no specific ‘age’ that relates to when such devices are no longer required as this very dependant on a child’s development.”

      He also advises that you speak to your insurance provider to see what’s covered in the event of an incident. If you are insured with us and you want to know more, email lucie.carter@caravanguard.co.uk and I’ll look into things further.

      Many thanks

      Lucie
      Caravan Guard

  9. Brendan says:

    We are in the process of buying a 2008 Devon with 3 travelling seats and a bench seat. The dealer says it is permissible for an adult to ride on the side-facing bench seat. I am now not so sure as something about seats was included in the law relating to motorhomes registered after Oct 2007.

    We don’t want to make a habit of it, but there are times when we may wish to carry driver plus 3. We would like to be legal and insured. I know it increases risk of injury in an RTC.

    Insurance companies – some ask the number of belted seats but one safeguard, did not ask about seat numbers and when asked the insurance sales person said it is OK provided it is a seat to safely carry the passenger. That kind of leaves the question open since “safe” is a relative term. For example she said a person could not sit on the bed, but given that virtually every seat in a motor home converts to a bed, that too is a little ambiguous. Help!

    • Hi Brenden,

      As the article says, it’s recommended that motorhomes manufactured after 2006 must ave at least two point safety belts for all designated seats.

      With regards to the bench seat, it’s my understanding that having passengers seated in this way can in fact be dangerous.

      Let me double check with Leisure Security Vehicles expert Tim Booth and get back to you.

      Many thanks

      Lucie
      Caravan Guard

    • Hi Brendan,

      I put your query to Tim Booth (Leisure Vehicles Officer at AVCIS Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service) as promised. He tells me:

      “Generally the DVLA now record the numbers of ‘travelling’ seats in motorhomes. If an older motorhome is in use there is always the opportunity for the driver to carry ‘unsecured’ passengers in the vehicle. As a general rule on newer builds – if seat belts are fitted then these are the only travelling seats available.”

      He goes on to say that, “Whilst there is no specific legislation with regard to older motorhomes and the carriage of passengers, the construction and use regulations include the offence of ‘exposing the passengers to danger’ refering to carrying them safely/securely – so in the event of an injury / compensation case after an Road Traffic Incident, an insurer may decide that as the driver chose to ‘expose’ their passenger to such a danger then they would not provide cover for that risk.”

      “Last year AVCIS found an unsecured passenger in a motorhome. This passenger was removed as no provision of seat belts was made. He had to then travel from the North West to Norfolk and join his family there. So applying the general rule as above is the safest for you – the driver and your passengers.”

      I hope this answers your question.

      Many thanks

      Lucie
      Caravan Guard

  10. Graham Frow says:

    I have an Ace Capri 2 berth 2009 my wife and I would like to pick up our daughter and husband and 2 teenage grandchildren from Manchester airport in June plus holiday luggage as long as not overweight is this legal? Cheer Graham.

  11. Paul says:

    Hello all please help, i have just bought a 1995 Ford Iveco turbo daily 59.12 minibus,which i am going to covert in to a motor home. The problem i have is that the driver seat has no seat belt fitted and never has had one fitted not even any bolt holes anywhere for one. Oh iv been told its been imported from Ireland, now i no its a must that it has a driver seat belt but does any one have any ideas how to fit one in. As there doesn’t appear anything sold to bolt to.

  12. Carole says:

    We are about to purchase a motorhome built in 2004, it has two double side seat with no seat belts…we want to take our 2.5 year old granddaughter with us on our trips and will require her car seat secured via a seat belt… I’m a bit concerned as I’ve read I cannot fit seat belts to the side facing seats…can you confirm this as this will have an impact on our purchase….

  13. Hilary says:

    Adding a seat: We were sold our motorhome with the advice that side bench seat could have a lapstrap fitted. We have now found this is not safe, and would mean the van fails its MOT. We have sourced a folding seat (meets european safety regualtions) which will fit into a side bench seat. It is made in Germany, and now available in the uk, and a specialist company will fit it to the chassis. Will cost around £1,500 but the grandchildren will be safe, and we will be covered on insurance, so worth it.

  14. John James says:

    Heather, Many thanks for the article above. Is it possible that I can clarify the position for motorhomes built before Jan 2006 with regards to rear passengers: While i’m not intending to travel without safety mechanisms for my children, I want to understand the law, not safety, at this stage. Therefore, am I correct with the following statements:

    1. I understand that if seatbelts are not fitted by the manufacturer to any rear seat, for a vehiclke used in the UK then their is no legal requirement for a seatbelt to be fitted, for whatever age of passenger that may sit in the seat.

    2. I understand that if I take the same vehicle to France, that any child under 3 years old must be secured by means of a 3 point belt system

    3. It is nopt recommended that side facing seats are used in conjunction with seatbelts as this may, in certain undefined circumatances, cause more than wearing no seatbelt in certain accidents.

    Many thanks, John

  15. James Johnson says:

    I have done a litle research into driving in France without seatbelts and I’ve found the following from here:
    http://www.securite-routiere.gouv.fr/article.php3?id_article=3155

    and here:
    http://www.securite-routiere.gouv.fr/article.php3?id_article=3492

    Sorry for the translation.
    [quote]
    Seat belt: compulsory front and rear, 1 person = 1 seat belt = 1
    Since 2005, the driver is responsible for seat belt or a retainer adapted to all passengers aged under 18.

    The lack of seat belt use remains a major killer on the road. Today is the back that is most often found. In 2007, 393 lives could be saved if 100% of users had buckled up.

    For maximum safety, the belt should be adjusted.

    You should keep certain devices to loosen the belt. Indeed, they diminish its effectiveness, resulting in injury risks in case of impact. Instead, automakers improve the performance of traditional belts by installing systems pre-tension the belts that tighten and strengthen its ability to secure the body with the seat of the car.

    Since 1 January 2008, each passenger must occupy only a place equipped with a safety belt.

    This is essential for the safety of children who can no longer share the same place, hitherto tolerated practice.
    [/quote]

    And specifically relating to rear seats WITHOUT fitted seatbelts.
    [quote]
    All or part of our car seats are not equipped with seatbelts. Can we continue to transport our children to these places?
    In case your vehicle (old) is not equipped with seat belts for rear seats, you can still carry children older than 3 years without being restrained by an appropriate, but this practice is strongly discouraged for safety of young passengers.

    By cons, a child under three years can no longer be installed on site without a seat belt and without a specific child restraint device.

    If your vehicle has no room equipped with safety belt, your child will be transported in another vehicle.

    Indeed, to increase the safety of a child under three years, particularly fragile, it must travel in a specific restraint approved, such a platform bed or a suitable seat, this device can be installed on a seat with seat belt.

    A driver who transports a child under three years of a place not equipped with seat belts is liable to a fixed fine of € 135.[/quote]

    So if you drive an old vehicle which doesnt have fitted seat belts, you can carry an unrestrained child over the age of 3 in the back of your vehicle.

  16. carol stafford says:

    Hi I have just purchased a 1998 fiat ducato motor home is it possible to have seat belts fitted in the rear of the vehicle it is a u shaped lounge area with 2 single beds or one large double as i would like my son and his family to be able to use the motor home i want to have seat belts fitted for my grandchildren in the lounge area.

  17. Richard says:

    Hi, thanks for the very informative post.
    Has there been any update with regard to the extended European Whole Vehicle Type Approval Regulations you mentioned taking affect 29th April 2012?
    will this impact ALL motorhomes or just those built after this date?
    thanks

  18. Livvy says:

    So in a motorhome if you had the front with a few seats then beds in the middle and then seats at the back as well would everyone at the back have to have seatbelts? I was assuming they would have to, but I was wondering specifically. And because you have to have seatbelts is it illegal to lay in the beds whilst moving?

  19. Coral says:

    Are 2point belts OK for childen to use in the back of a motorhomr?

  20. chelsea ambrose says:

    are you allowed 7 people in a 6 berth camper van ?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Chelsea

      That would depend on the number of seats including any travel seats and whether the correct seat belts are fitted. See above response where it reads:

      There is no specific legal limit to the number of passengers carried in a motorhome. However, the manufacturer will probably specify the maximum number that the vehicle is designed for. If that number is exceeded, Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 may apply.

  21. Rose Hinds says:

    Do these regulations pertain to Canadian laws particularily Ontario

  22. deborah says:

    can you please clear this up? Seatbelt law seems a bit fuzzy and so does insurance. I just read an entire policy of yours to see that breakdown cover abroad isn’t covered if ‘the vehicle is carrying more passengers than designed for’
    Can you confirm? We will travel through France in a brand new van in July and only have 4 seltbelts but 5 passengers! There is a side facing seat as above. You say it is dangerous, but is it covered. (we have actually arranged for 2 of the passengers to fly down to meet us actually) but want to know if it is legal to go out on day trips?? and not just legal but ‘covered’. Thank you

    • Heather says:

      Hi Deborah

      Sorry for the delay in our response.

      We queried this with the Department of Transport in May 2008 and their response was as follows:

      “There is no current legal requirement to have seatbelts fitted to side facing seats, or seats that make up the accommodation area in the rear of motor caravans, which are normally used only when the vehicle is stationary. However, The Department for Transport advice is that passengers are safest in a forward or rearward facing seat equipped with a lap belt or preferably a three point belt.

      Although it is not generally illegal to use side facing seats, with or without seatbelts, we would not advise that they are used. Seatbelts are not designed to be used with sidefacing seats and, although they may help to prevent the wearer being ejected or thrown around the vehicle, in a frontal crash they can increase injury risk by subjecting vulnerable parts of the body to higher loads than seatbelts used on forward facing seats.

      If you intend to carry children aged 12 years or under, the seatbelt wearing regulations which came into force on 18 September 2006 require them to use a suitable child restraint. You should bear in mind that child restraints cannot be fitted to side facing seats.

      There is no specific legal limit to the number of passengers carried in a motorhome. However, the manufacturer will probably specify the maximum number that the vehicle is designed for. If that number is exceeded, Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 may apply. In summary, this regulation states that: “A motor vehicle, and all its parts and accessories; the number of passengers carried, and the manner in which any passengers are carried in or on a vehicle; and the weight, distribution, packing and adjustment of the load of a vehicle, to be at all times such that no danger is caused, or is likely to be caused, to any person in or on a vehicle or on a road.

      European legislation (2005/39/EC) has been adopted that prohibits the installation of side facing seats in new vehicles, which must comply with the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval Regulations. At this time, motorhomes do not need to comply with this. However, from 29 April 2012, motorhomes will be covered by the extended European Whole Vehicle Type Approval Regulations, which will prohibit the use of side facing seats in motorhomes whilst the vehicle is travelling. Travelling seats will then need to be clearly identified to users by a pictogram or sign. It is also likely that the appropriate Regulations within the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 will be amended to prohibit the use of side facing seats when travelling in the near future.”

      We are not 100% certain that this information remains correct but have emailed the Department of Transport to check and will submit any further information received. If the information remains valid, obviously from a UK point of view it would not be illegal to use the side facing seat without a seatbelt to transport a 5th passenger even though it is not advisable. That’s subject to you not contravening Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986.

      Our underwriters RSA concur with the DOT’s 2008 advice. They say that “You and your husband must keep to the law relating to seatbelts, however the law in the UK doesn’t insist on the wearing of seatbelts where none is fitted. This makes the checking of French law even more important!”

      Obviously we cannot advise on French seatbelt legislation – if you have a sound understanding of the French language you could try the French Ministry of Transport’s website at http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/-Transports,1310-.html.

      Providing your motorhome insurance policy has the European cover option selected your insurance cover will stand even whilst carrying the additional passenger. If you are unsure whether you have our European cover option selected or not please refer to your policy schedule or call us on 01422 396 777 so we can check this for you. We hope you have a great trip.

      We don’t have any exclusions or conditions around the wearing of seatbelts. But please remember to take all reasonable steps.

      All Insured Persons must
      a) observe the terms and conditions and exclusions of this insurance
      b) take all reasonable steps to try to prevent any incident that may give rise to a claim
      c) take all reasonable steps to minimise the amount payable under this insurance

      Kind regards

      Heather Robinson
      Caravan Guard


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