Laws governing the use of safety belts and child restraints
Safety belts in motor vehicles came many decades after the invention of the internal combustion engine, but you might be surprised how late into the 20th century it was before they started to become mandatory.
Today, innumerable people owe their lives to the seatbelt and understandably, the laws are now very strict on making sure that they’re present, fit for purpose and most importantly, worn all the time. For the most part, the rules governing cars also apply to motorhomes, however, it’s worth restating them, for those searching for this specific information.
Seatbelts and motorhomes
First of all, the driver and front passenger seats of all motor vehicles have to be equipped with seatbelts and these have to be worn. While it’s acceptable to remove a seatbelt for reversing, there are no other reasons (short of a certificate of exemption from your doctor) which apply to motorhomes. In short, if the motorhome is moving, you MUST wear the seatbelt.
In Priory luxury motorhomes, there are seats in the living areas which are equipped with safety belts. As with seats in the cab, if you’re on the road you must be seated and as with all vehicles, if there’s a seatbelt fitted, you have to use it.
Newer rules relating to children in motor vehicles
Fairly recently, new rules were introduced to further improve the safety of children in motor vehicles. It’s now mandatory for children and babies to make use of appropriate restrains which are based on age height and weight. A child who has passed their 12th birthday or grown past 135cm in height (whichever happens first) can wear a normal adult seatbelt, but below that, some form of additional restraint is required.
To find child seats which are legal for use in the UK, look for the letter ‘E’ inside a circle and the code ‘ECE R44’. If these aren’t present, then they can’t legally be used. The categories based on weight of the child are as follows;
Up to 13 Kilograms in weight – ‘Group 0+’ – Rear facing baby seat or carrier using a harness (group ‘0’ can also be used for babies 10Kg or under which also have a lateral/lie flat option)
From 9 Kilograms to 18 Kilograms – ‘Group 1’ – A baby seat which can be rear or forward facing, using a safety shield or harness.
From 15 Kilograms to 25 Kilograms – ‘Group 2’ – A child seat (a high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) which can be rear or forward facing, using a safety shield or harness.
From 22 Kilograms to 36 Kilograms – ‘Group 3’ – A child seat (a high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) which can be rear or forward facing, using a safety shield or harness.
As with all baby carriers, you must take care to deactivate the airbag if you’re placing the carrier on a front passenger seat. Please let us know if that’s the case so we can show you how to do this in your motorhome.
Who is responsible for ensuring everyone belts up?
For anyone 14 years and over, they’re responsible for themselves, however up to 13 years, it is the driver who is deemed to be at fault if the passenger isn’t safely secured.
What if I’m caught without a seatbelt?
The most serious penalties for not wearing a seatbelt are the obvious consequences of finding yourself in immediate need of a seatbelt and not wearing one. We hope it never happens, but a seatbelt can’t save your life if you haven’t worn it. If you’re lucky enough that you’re caught without a seatbelt by the police rather than a by a collision, expect an on the spot fine of £100, which could rise to £500 if court action is taken. Please, just wear your seatbelts!
If in doubt, speak to us.
If you’re in any doubt about the rules relating to seatbelts and in particular around the various child restraint and carseat options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’re happy to help.