Interior non camping seatbelt legality

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Seatbelts and the law

15/1/06 We asked the Department for Transport for their interpretation on the law as it applies to seatbelts fitted in motorhomes, this article gives the essence of the information that they gave us:

There is currently no legal requirement to have seat belts fitted to side-facing seats or seats that make up the accommodation area in motor caravans. Regulation 46 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986: as amended states motor caravans first used on or after 1st April 1982 but before 1 October 1988 shall be equipped with anchorage points for the driver's seat and specified passenger seat (if any); and for motor caravans first used on or after 1st October 1988 shall be equipped with anchorage points for the driver's seat and any forward-facing front seat. You can download a copy of the SI at However, this does not preclude manufacturers fitting seat belts to forward facing or rearward facing seats within the accommodation area if they wish to do so. Where seat belts are fitted they must be worn.

Following our request for clarification on the carrying of passengers in unbelted seats, we received this further reply:

... seats in the rear of a campervan/motorhome do not, at present, require seatbelts (whether forward, rearward or sideways facing) and it is not illegal to carry unrestrained passengers in them while travelling, providing the vehicle is not overloaded. It is not something we would recommend, however.

Although current seat belt wearing regulations do not currently prohibit carrying more passengers in vehicles than there are seat belts available, the police may prosecute drivers for carrying passengers in a manner that may injure someone. We would advise that no-one should be carried in any unbelted seat in the rear of a motorhome.

A recent Directive (2005/40/EC) on the installation of seat belts requires that from 20 October 2007 new vehicles will have to have seat belts fitted on all seats except those seats intended solely for use when the vehicle is stationary.

Where seat belts are fitted, from May 2009, the seat belt wearing Directive will prevent more passengers being carried than there are seat belts in the rear of vehicles.

The new requirements will mean that from May 2009, in any vehicle of whatever age, where seat belts are fitted in the rear, more passengers may not be carried in the rear than there are seat belts available.

The critical points are that for owners of older motorhomes, it will not become illegal to carry passengers in the rear, provided that no seatbelts are fitted to any seats behind the driver and front passenger seats. Owners of any motorhome that has belts fitted to any seat in the rear will need to be aware that, from May 2009, it will be illegal to carry passengers in any unbelted seats.

The advisability of carrying unrestrained passengers is another matter, to quote the DfT spokesman:

'... the police can already act where people in the rear of any vehicle are considered to be carried in a dangerous manner because they are unrestrained. [Owners] should beware of unbelted passengers. In a crash, they can injure others in the vehicle ...'.

We are indebted to Rohan Pohl and Tom Norman from the Department for Transport for their time and patience in answering all our questions on this subject.

Also from UK campsite forum

There's been a post on another forum I use about rear seat belts. The person involved has contacted the MoT people and the Department of Transport and got the following responses :

From VOSA (the MoT people) :

"As far as the MOT test is concerned, there are no requirements for forwardfacing rear seats in a motorhome to be fitted with seatbelts.However rules on the legality of people travelling in a vehicle withoutseatbelts can only be answered by the Department for Transport in London"

And from Department for Transport:

"There is no current legal requirement to have seat belts fitted to sidefacing seats, or seats that make up the accommodation area in motor caravans, which are normally used only when the vehicle is stationary and are not designated as travelling seats. Seat belts are not designed to be used with side-facing seats and, although it is not illegal to use them, with or without seat belts, we would not advise that they are used. Seat belts on these seats may help to prevent the wearer being thrown around the vehicle or from being ejected, but in a frontal crash they can increase injury risk by subjecting vulnerable parts of the body to higher loads than belts used on forward facing seats. Our advice is that passengers are safest in a forward or rearward facing seat equipped with a lap belt or, preferably, a three-point belt. Any seat belts fitted must comply with the latest British or European standards and be marked accordingly with either the 'e', 'E' or BS 'Kitemark'. The seat belt anchorage points should also be designed so that they will be capable of withstanding the high forces of an impact. We strongly recommend that they are installed professionally by qualified persons (such as at a commercial garage or seat belt specialist). Seat belt wearing regulations require all seat belts to be worn where they are fitted. You also ought to be aware that if the police see people being carried in the rear of a vehicle in what they consider to be a dangerous manner, then they have powers that will enable them to prosecute. They do use this to deal with adults or children not using seat belts in the rear of vehicles."

Interesting. Hope this clears it up for everyone.