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Motorhome Seat Belt Laws in the UK

You don’t have to be a driver to know that driving or riding in a car without seat belts is prohibited. But what about motorhomes? If you’ve just become an RV owner or you aim to become one, you might not be familiar with all the UK laws regarding driving a motorhome, and that includes seat belts. In fact, the chances are not all experienced motorhome drivers know about these regulations.

It doesn’t matter which group you belong to and why you may have any questions regarding seat belt laws in the UK. This article will try to answer them all. Below, we’ll cover all the seat belt information you need to know when travelling in a motorhome, including the rules of keeping buckled up in the RV’s living area and child seat belts regulations.

Motorhome Seat Belt Laws

Everybody knows that seat belts can mean the difference between life and death. It does not matter whether you are in a car or motorhome. The effects of not wearing seat belts could be severe if you were involved in a horrendous crash. Interestingly, though, motorhome manufactures did not have to fit seat belts outside the cab before 2007.

Since then, all seats have to be fitted with seat belts. In fact, it is obligatory to wear them during your travel (with few exceptions we will cover later). And when it comes to more specific UK regulations, it all depends on the year your RV was manufactured. The UK legislation divides it into three periods – after 2006, after 1988, and before 1988.

Here is how these laws apply:

  • After 2006: If you own a motorhome from the newer generation, you need to identify the designated travel seats (forward-facing seats and rearward facing seats). Then, you have to make sure all these seats are fitted with seat belts and that your passengers wear them when your motorhome is in transit. In newer motorhomes, only the driver and specified passengers have to use three-point belts, with the rest of the passenger seats required to have at least two-point seat belts. An important note – side-facing seats cannot be designated as travelling seats.
  • After 1988: Older motorhomes must have three-point seat belts for the front seats – for the driver and the designated passenger. Other vehicle seats can have either two or three-point seat belts, and wearing them is mandatory in transit.
  • Before 1988: Wearing seat belts is mandatory for the driver and the designated passenger in the front. Interestingly, it is not illegal for rear-seat passengers not to wear seat belts. However, the police can deem it an offence if you drive the motorhome at high speed.

Additionally, although not illegal, government officials do not recommend using sideways facing seats when travelling. As various tests have shown, in the event of a frontal crash, such vehicle seat belts might increase injury risk.

Generally speaking, when carrying passengers, it is your obligation as a driver to ensure all of them are wearing seat belts in transit. According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, you will be guilty of an offence if you use a vehicle when the number of passengers carried or how you carry passengers involves the danger of injury to any person.

Another crucial thing to remember is to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency if you have made any changes to your motorhome, such as adding rear seats, changing front-facing seats, etc.

All this legislation comes under the Road Vehicles Regulations. For more seat belt information and other motorhome laws, we recommend checking the UK Government website.

Seat Belts Wearing Exemptions

In various cases, it is possible not to wear seat belts:

  • You do not have to use seat belts when reversing;
  • If all designated travelling seats are occupied, additional passengers can travel in non-designated seats without seat belts;
  • When driving a vehicle related to an emergency;
  • Suppose a passenger cannot use seat belts due to medical reasons. In this case, though, they must provide a medical exemption certificate from their GP.

Other than that, all the passengers must have seat belts fastened when in transit.

Child Seat Belt Regulations

In the UK, children under 12 or more than 135cm (whichever comes first) must use a child car seat or booster seat with three-point belts.

And as for choosing the right child seat, you need to consider your child’s weight and height. You should also ensure it meets the European safety standard ECE R44/04 or R129. Any seat without this code is illegal to use in the UK.

In general, there are four categories of child seats:

  • Group 0+: Children up to 13kg – a carrier with a harness or rear-facing baby seat;
  • Group 1: Children between 9-18kg – a rear or forward-facing baby seat with a harness or safety shield;
  • Group 2: Children between 15-25kg – a booster cushioned or high-backed booster child seat that can be both rear and rear-facing. It also has to use a safety shield or harness;
  • Group 3: Children from 22kg to 36kg – applies the same rules as in Group 2.

Once you get the child seat, you need to install it in your motorhome so that it meets all the safety regulations. Firstly, child restraints cannot be fitted to side-facing seats. Secondly, you must only use such seats if your motorhome seat belt has a diagonal strap. Thirdly, if you want to mount the child seat on a front passenger seat, you must deactivate the passenger airbag first.

It is also important to note that some child seats might require additional support like top straps. As a rule of thumb, you should always check with the supplier that the seat is suitable for your motor caravan.

Final Word on the UK Motorhome Seat Belt Regulations

Sitting in the driver’s seat when travelling in a motorhome is a huge responsibility. However, besides driving safely, you should also keep your passengers safe in transit. For this reason, your motor vehicle must have seat belts and you need to ensure that your passengers wear them at all times.

Just like in other vehicles, wearing seat belts when in transit is obligatory, and it is your responsibility as the driver to have the seat belts fitted and used. Otherwise, your risk getting fined. And what is worse, you risk your passengers getting injured if you are involved in an accident. With all this in mind, it is always best to check whether you have all the seat belts fitted.

Additionally, when travelling with children, you should ensure the child car seats are fitted correctly and meet all the European standards. Keep this all in mind before starting your motorhome trip! And if you are not sure if your camper van meets all the requirements regarding seat belts and required child restraints, check the official Legistalion.gov website. Your insurance company should also provide you with any additional information on how to have the seat belts fitted in all the seats in camper vans.

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