April 2008






Belt-up in the back!

We are often asked about seatbelt legislation and how it applies to motorhomes.

People are often confused by the fact that not all seats in their motorhome will necessarily be fitted with seatbelts. This is because some seats – such as those which are sideways facing - are not really designed for use while travelling and shouldn’t be used for passengers if it can be avoided.

There is no current legal requirement to have seat belts fitted in the rear of a motorhome bought before 2007, whether those seats are forward, rear or sideways facing and it is not illegal to carry passengers seated in them. However, the law is changing. With effect from 20 October 2007, new motorhomes must have seat belts fitted on all seats except those that are specifically designed for stationary use. And from May 2009, an EU Directive will mean that new motorhomes can only carry passengers where there are enough seat belts available.

If you have an older motorhome, there are two points to be aware of:
• If you have no seat belts in the rear, it will not be illegal for you to carry passengers (although you should think very carefully before doing so).
• If you have some seat belts fitted in the rear it will be illegal for you to carry any unbelted passengers.

What about the children?
In September 2006, new laws were introduced enforcing the use of car seats and suitable restraints for children. The legislation states that all children under the age of 12 must be restrained in a suitable car seat until they reach the height of 135 cms.
• Baby seats must be used by children weighing up to 13 kgs;
• Child seats must be used by children weighing between 9–18 kgs and
• Booster seats must be used by children weighing between 12–25 kgs;
• Children aged six and over must use a booster cushion.
These rules apply whether children are travelling in a car or a motorhome. However, the legislation also specifies that child seats and restraints must be used “where seatbelts are provided”. The law does not require you to fit seat belts in the rear of vehicles where the seats do not already have seat belts. So your children could travel unrestrained in the back if they are over three years old. If they are under three, they must be strapped into an appropriate baby or child seat in the front or rear at all times.

It might be legal but is it safe?
Don’t forget that it is extremely dangerous for anyone to travel even a short distance without a seat belt, so think very carefully before allowing your children or any other passenger travel in this way.

We have all seen the Think! advertising campaign on the TV: in a crash, unbelted passengers can injure others in the vehicle as well as themselves. And according to the Department of Transport, the police can prosecute a driver where people in the rear of any vehicle are considered to be carried in a dangerous manner because they are unrestrained.

Remember, this is simply the Southdowns Team trying to offer helpful advice based on our knowledge and our experience. This is not necessarily a statement of fact. We do not currently employ any lawyers in our showroom or in our workshop and the only place law is confirmed is in the court!!