Motorhome seat belts: Time to belt up…?

Published in Motorhoming Top Tips on   - 46 Comments

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  1. Adam Young says:

    Why risk losing your license driving without a seatbelt?

  2. Gordon Panther says:

    Wow – it’s a confusing area! Still, we are where we are and unless we take all the various seat-belt laws across all the different areas, and rewrite them into a single piece covering ‘everything’ we now have (cars, buses, motorhomes, motorbikes) then weird niche things like motorhomes will always be on the cloudy periphery.

    For me, one thing is mentioned above, by many, and on all other such pages, but in a rather blithe fashion – “safety is paramount”. It is repeated over and over, almost hypnotically. I do agree, it is paramount. What’s odd is how almost of all us react to that (not just here – I mean other websites, face to face; anytime). Most of us start to dig into the law, the insurance, the technicalities of vehicle construction, the judgments of others and so on. But if you think about it – none of those things ‘are’ safety. They may guide us; the laws will ‘parallel’ safety in some way for example – but they are the /result/ of government, insurers and manufacturers trying to create or enhance safety for the vehicle users. Do you see what I mean? We all end up looking at a kind of ‘reflection’ of ‘safety’ and don’t spend any effort on what /we/ can actually do to enhance safety. It’s a kind of somebody-elses-job kind of reaction. Well, that’s how it always scans, to me.

    I’m a motorcyclist (and cyclist, and driver, and new motorhomer!! # 🙂 … and pedestrian!) and my view of safety has never, even as a child (cyclist), been driven by those factors. You probably know what’s coming… – my view of my own (and my passenger/s) safety is to do with /me/. I can ride (or drive) down any given stretch of road and – barring a bizarre psychotic effect causing every single driver to /intentionally/ aim to murder me – I can do so without crashing (and yes, I include the behaviour of other drivers in that). Alternatively, I could ride/drive down that road like 95% of drivers do, 95% of the time – tailgating the vehicle ahead, sitting alongside vehicles on dual-lane roads, not knowing what’s going on behind, making last second decisions, not looking or planning ahead, not peering around the edge of the A frame when going into a roundabout – etc. Bikers who ride like that don’t last very long! And a lot of drivers only ‘last’ because their vehicle saves them when any of those risks come due!

    So this is just a thought to put out there (I do advanced rider training for motorcyclists btw) – when the word ‘safety’ comes up, I would advise people put aside a little of their time/focus that they would spend looking at the rules and regulations, and ‘spend’ that on thinking about reducing those risks. Now I’m new to motorhoming, but I’m certainly not new to road use and standards on our roads are atrocious aren’t they. At the risk of countering my own logic above – if you took every UK driver and (magically) put them all through the basic DSA test /today/ (practical and theory, i.e. Highway Code) such that failure would result in removal of their licence (until they ‘passed’) – then there would be perhaps 5% of us left on the roads tomorrow! In fact I often ask this of people… so – take a deep breath, relax, calm your mind, do not let the insulted demon take auto-control of your tongue # 😉 and consider – if /you/ had to take your basic DSA test (including HWC) /today/ – would you pass? I’ve asked dozens of people this question over the years… and only 2 have said ‘yes’! One of them was me. The other ‘yes’ chap came back half an hour later and said “I’ve been thinking…” and changed himself to a ‘no’! Now this is fantastically honest, but it does show us something pretty fundamental. We might assume or think we’re all good drivers… but when we /really/ think about it – most of us realise that, at least in /some/ ways (not all, just some) we’re actually worse than we were before we got the bit of paper! Then too, motorhomers are, like bikers, older folk in general – so our innate capabilities (eyesight, neck mobility, speed of thought) are reducing factors which many people will not account for. So I’d advise everyone to, once a year, really ask themselves that question and answer it honestly. If you would say ‘no’ and if you /do/ care about safety (and you do!) – well… there is your prompt for action. So then, do something. Could be read up, could be change habits, could be buy an up to date HWC and read it, could be take some refresher or advanced training. I’m with IAM on the bike and I’d highly recommend them but there are other groups like ROSPA, and also private tutors.

    Anyway, it is just food for thought from a newcomer motorhomer! I hope it does not come across the wrong way; I am meaning to be positive and helpful not judgemental. I am looking forward to our first trip out in the new (to us – 1991!!) portable house once this flipping COVID19 thing calms down. Oh, one more valuable piece of advise, re: that – I am saying to ‘everyone’ at every opportunity. The cause of this disaster – and many before it (BSE, AIDS, Ebola, Bird Fluw, 1918 flu…) was very simple – fundamentally, it was caused by people killing and eating closely-related animals – cows, chimps, birds etc. Now this particular zoonotic outbreak wasn’t due to people in the UK eating cows (but, ahem – BSE /was/ – and 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu likely came from US mass farming, etc.). But where each thing starts is somewhat irrelevant in a ‘global’ world, which is what we now are. So if a person eats animals (or wears them), they are part of that system whether they are in China, the US, the UK, wherever. Ergo – if you do not wish to be part of that system; if you want to withdraw your ‘support’ and so not bear shared responsibility for the future ones… then simply opt out. I did after BSE in the 1990s! In the 21st century in the UK it’s really easy to go pesci, veggie – even vegan – though I’d recommend the first 2 to start with to most people. Again, I’m not judging, simply informing. We all make our own calls but I think most of us don’t ever stop to reconsider.

    Anyway – happy motorhoming and drive safe (once we can!).


  3. Julia Layzell says:

    I have a elddis 400 rear lounge 2003. Only the front driver and passenger have seat belts. Can I add lap restraints to the side seats of the lounge layout please.

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Two seatbelts means two people can travel. It’s not advisable for anyone to travel in the side seats if there are no seat belts fitted and aren’t recommended for anyone sitting sideways.


    I have a 1988 talbort express highway man its a 4 berth.
    Its got seat belts on the front seat non in the back.
    The seating area in the rear have 2 rear facing seats and 2 front facing seats can i traval with 2 people in these seats.
    The log book got no numbers on in the part about how many people it holds.

  5. Samantha Gilmour says:

    I have a bought a swivel seat for my iveco daily but can only fit it rear facing ,due to handbrake and gear level it wont swivel if in the front, is this legal ,the seat belt is attached to the seat as it is a twin seat.

  6. Karen napper says:

    I am not asking about safety issues just the law. My sister has bought a brand new motor home with two seats only with belts. Driver and passenger. They have a 26 year old son and want to know the law in relation to him sitting in one of the side facing bench settees both here in england and on the continent. The motor home has double bed made from these seats and room above cabin where he did sleep on the odd occasion he may go with them. None of the comments above have answered this question

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Two seatbelts means two people can travel. The vehicle will show on DVLA record as driver plus passenger. For more information, we’d suggest contacting the DVSA.

  7. Dirk says:

    We are looking at a 2013 Holiday rambler Ambassador 36 ft. The couch behind the driver has been changed to a same width reclining seats couch. They are side facing. Would the RV have factory anchor bolts or would there be none? If not can they be added keeping in mind this couch is part of a slide that moves outward. Any solutions to this situation? Thank you!

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      You would need to speak to the dealer selling this vehicle. Seat belts aren’t recommended for anyone sitting sideways.

  8. Angela Seniore says:

    Hello well I am confused by all the comments. I`m not sure I need seat belts or lap belts or any at all ?
    I have a Ford Pollensa Autosleeper 2008 with 2 seat belts fitted for driver and passenger front seats only. I may have 2 children or adults wanting to be in the side facing seats in rear. No seat belts there.
    Should they be wearing belts? Seat or lap?


  9. Jeff Battisby says:

    so many comments to absorb here so here’s one more ! my June 2007 2 berth motorhome has 2 side long bench seats – question – who can i take in my van as there are no belts etc fitted ?

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      It’s not advisable for anyone to travel in the bench seats if there are no seat belts fitted. The vehicle is restricted to the driver and front seat passenger only.

  10. Ricky Westwell says:

    I have a fiat authorial mohican 4 berth 1999. Only two belts. Sure facing seats in back. Any recommendations on how I could add two belts please?.

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Ricky, seat belts aren’t recommended for anyone sitting sideways. Also, check your motorhome’s V5 document because it might only be rated as a driver and passenger vehicle for insurance purposes.

  11. Darren says:

    Just to be clear on seatbelt laws: (this is set in stone and not advisory) although people “may” tell you not to carry passengers in the rear for safety issues..
    You CAN carry up to 16 passengers on your normal car driving license providing. 1) it’s not for hire or reward 2) the vehicle is under 7.5 tons GVW 3) all seats are sideways on. The way to carry passenger in your camper or mobile home “legally” is keep any passengers on either sideways seating (which seat belts are not required due to it being deemed belts cause more harm!) or it is legal to not have belts on 45 degree or less seating! Simple resolve is don’t have side or rear facing seating if you want to carry anyone.

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Safety of passengers will always of course be paramount – and whilst ‘older’ vehicles will not be subject to some legislation it’s still advisable to make sure all passengers – including pets – are secured in a vehicle when travelling.

  12. Darren says:

    Hi all,

    I am a coach builder in the sense I’ve converted 27 ex council welfare buses (3.9 kg’s on average ULW) and was the 1st in the UK to do this back in 2003.
    Anyway, I’ve turned a 4.2kg trip axle Renault Master Tvac wheelchair access bus into a rather nice camper home incorporating a living area behind the driver and an 8ft square double bedroom at the rear. There is a wall now behind the driver with an access door on the passenger side SO I can’t have a passenger seat as it will impede access.
    I have a long horseshoe suite on the driver’s side which has a side facing section of around 1400mm (PSV regs state 410mm is the seating required for 1 passenger) so I can have 3 passengers as I see it without belts!? Also 45 degree seating or less is exempt from seatbelt by law! As I see it this “could” carry up to 8 passengers (poss 16 but not that I’d need to) without any legislation so long as there was all side facing seats. I’m only looking to take the wife and 3 cats out as it happens. I’ve looked on the net and spoke to 3 police station traffic officers and they haven’t a clue which is weird considering they wouldn’t recognise this offence! Any views here!?

  13. Teresa riley says:

    Hi my 2005 class A motorhome captain seat only have lap belts. Can I replace them with integrated seats.
    Thanks Teresa

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Teresa, we’ve asked national expert Tim Booth and here’s his response:
      I can only assume that these are ‘travelling’ seats as in a 2005 motor vehicle the driver and front seat passenger seats would have been fitted with three point belt systems.
      Changing the seats from lap to three point will of course mean that the forces that act when the seat is put under strain during braking change as well. If the seats have ‘integrated’ three point systems – then, before installation, the strength of the floor mounting would need to be considered to make sure that this was sufficient to manage such a loading. If the ‘three point system’ was seeking to allow for the belt to be secured to a pillar of the motorhome, again the strength of the pillar would have to be investigated to make sure that this could manage sufficient loading.
      Of course this change of seats / restraints is a substantial change to the factory supplied version of the vehicle, and in order to ensure compliance with the terms of any insurance the keeper would need to notify the changes – otherwise they could invalidate their insurance cover.
      An insurer may request an inspection by a suitably qualified engineer to confirm that the alteration meets their requirements.
      Hope this helps?

  14. Charlie Glover says:

    I have a 12 year old Autotrail there are only 2 seatbelts in the front but I want to take my granddaughter with us as it is a 4 birth, after reading the comments I am still not sure about the law.

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      If you do not have seatbelts fitted in the rear seats then you are not able to carry extra passengers.

  15. James Sutherland says:

    My talbot t berth campervan has 2 forward and 2 rear facing seats with not seat belts. Could just pull out the forward facing seats completely and bolt in a double bus seat unit with 3 point belts?

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi James, any seat must be robust enough to support the loadings that may be exerted onto it by the seatbelts and ‘their’ restrained passengers. This load then transfers to the floor / chassis of the vehicle – which must also be capable of managing any load that is exerted onto this. These loads are substantial and prior to any installation we would suggest that checks are made with a competent engineer to establish that these loadings would be within the vehicle’s capabilities. This ‘adaptation’ should also be advised to the relevant insurance company.

  16. Chris Graydon says:

    What a Joke why Manufacture and sell a motorhome that sleeps 4 people but can only carry 2 not fit for purpose

  17. John says:

    Our 1989 Autosleeper had lab belts on 2 forward facing rear seats. We had seatbeltsevices design and fit frames with 3 point inertia belts. Children now can come with us, they are safe, we didn’t have to change vans. The internal use is not compromised. Expensive perhaps at about £1400 but worth it. Some of comments on here are too negative, generalised and ill informed.

  18. Kirsty Woodman says:

    we have a campervan and want to take my son out in it. it only has a lap belt so was going to put his seat in the front passenger side but are we allowed to travel with said seat facing rear.

  19. stuart says:

    can anyone tell me if under 16 can travel in a motorhome if they have bench type seating . is this legal ?

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Stuart, it depends on whether the bench seats are sideways / forward or rear facing. If the bench seats are forward or rearward facing and are ‘designated’ as travel seats and no seat belts are fitted or there’s just a two point system then they cannot be used by a child.

  20. Pat Williams says:

    Your views would be welcome please. We have brought a boxer which has side seats and lap seatbelt so fitted. I’m confused after reading all these comments, should we put the children in them or not?…

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Pat
      Children must always be secured using a three point belt system. It’s also not the safest practice for adults to be carried in a sideways seat with lap belts.
      Hope this helps?

  21. Dorian Hickman says:

    I have a small dog a JRT should she have some sort of restraint when traveling and what is the law on this.

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Dorian. In the interests of everyone’s safety all passengers / pets / goods should be secured when travelling in a vehicle to protect them all from risk of injury or damage.
      There are specialist carriers for animals but please make sure it’s securely fixed when in use. The legislation is the same – under Construction and Use Regs 100

  22. Dave says:

    I have a 2001 motor home. It has 2 front facing travel seats with seat belts. Am I right in assuming the 2 rear facing seats are not to be used as they do not have seat belts?

  23. Steve says:

    This is why when paying a large sum of money for a motorhome you need to research what use it is going to get and for how many people and passengers. Why buy a seven berth auto trail with only 2 travel seats.

  24. Stephen says:

    Oops typo. He didn’t grow a seat he grew out of it.

  25. Chris Skeath says:

    lap restraints on sideways seats are a tricky one, it depends on the nature of collision, they can help reduce injury or they can result in injury, Back in the day before school minibuses all had forward facing seats we were advised not to fit lapbelts to the two benches at the back which were sideways facing. I believe that the fit of a lapbelt is also fairly critical, if it can rise up the abdomen there is risk of internal organ damage by the belt.

  26. Stephen says:

    I looked into this subject when buying our 1992 Talbot Express Autosleeper Harmony. It came factory fitted with 2 forward facing single seats with lap belts (better than nothing) on the rear seats which also convert to double side facing seats and 3 point inertia reel belts fitted to the front driver and passenger seats. If there were no belts fitted it would be in theory ok to use the rear side facing seats without belts due to its age but a very grey area in the eyes of the law, and you would need to speak with your insurance company to see if you are covered.

    As for retro fitting lap belts to side facing it was not recommended due to the extreme stess’s that would be put on the body in an accident, it could actually be more harmful than not wearing a belt at all.

    When it comes to children and seat belts the law is readily available on the Internet, the only comment I will make make on this is from personal experience. When our 2 year old out grew a child seat with 5 point harness, uk seats only take children up to 18kgs after that it’s booster seat with 3 point belt. To keep within the law we found a seat supplied from a specialist child car seat company in Milton Keynes which is usable with 5 point harness up to 25kgs and because it’s European standard certified ok to use in the UK. It also has the advantage of being safe to use with lap belts up to18kgs.

    I hope this helps someone.

  27. Les Twidle says:

    Why is it that only the positive statistics of wearing seat belts are published? As a former Police Officer for 30 years I Know that people have died because they were wearing a seat belt, while others are still alive because they were not wearing a seat belt when they had an accident. Given freedom of choice, I would not wears belt.

    Les T

  28. Michael Thomson says:

    We looked at fitting rear belts to our Romahome R20. Retro fting rear 3 point belts was going to ruin the interior if done safely, the engineering to ensure they were safe was massive. So we didn’t do it.

  29. John says:

    Would lap belts not be better than having no belt at all your view would be welcome

  30. lisa marsh says:

    Really helpful information, no one will usually advise you.

  31. Eric Watts says:

    I would like to know more about lap restraint bets for side view rear seats. I have a 16 yr old autosleeper. It has three seat belts for the forward viewing seats.

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