All modern motorhomes come fully fitted with seatbelts on designated travelling seats, but it's a different story when it comes to conversions and older models.
If you're the proud owner of a classic motorhome, it may not have seatbelts on all the seats. Are they actually required?
Before you set out on the road – and particularly if you're carrying passengers – it's important to know what the law says about seatbelts in motorhomes.
And don't forget to make sure you're fully covered at home, on the road, and when you pitch up for the night, with motorhome insurance from Motorhome Protect.
We can arrange specialist motorhome cover that includes the vehicle itself, as well as its contents – helping to ensure that your next trip is stress-free and more enjoyable than ever.
When are seatbelts required?
Whether your passengers have to wear seatbelts depends on where the passengers are sitting and whether there are seatbelts fitted.
As the Camping and Caravanning Club explains, motorhomes first registered on or after 20th October 2007 must have seatbelts for designated travel seats, and where seatbelts are provided they must be worn. You can be fined up to £500 if you don’t wear a seatbelt when you’re supposed to.
Travelling in a motorhome without a seatbelt where there are no available seatbelts is not specifically outlawed.
However, if you are stopped by the police and they believe that the seating arrangements for the number of passengers are inadequate and likely to endanger passengers or the stability of the vehicle, they have the power to prosecute you under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Where a motorhome was registered before 20th October 2007 and travelling with a seatbelt is not possible, the club recommends that you:
- only carry the number of passengers which the motorhome was designed to carry and ensure the vehicle is not overloaded, i.e. a two-berth motorhome with only the two cab belted seats should only ever carry two people; and
- check with your insurer at the outset if you intend to carry passengers where there are insufficient seatbelts available.
Children three years and under must be in a child car seat – if there is no seatbelt, they cannot travel.
A child aged three years or older can travel in a back seat without a car seat and without a seatbelt if the vehicle does not have one, but this is not recommended.
Irrespective of the law, it is highly recommended that travel is only undertaken with the use of appropriate seatbelts, the club concludes.
What does the Department for Transport say?
Guidance published by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2015 says that passengers are safest in a forward or rearward-facing seat equipped with a three-point seatbelt.
Seatbelt anchorage points should be designed so that they are capable of withstanding the high forces of an impact and seatbelts must comply with the latest British or European standards and be marked accordingly with either the ‘e’, ‘E’ or BS ‘Kitemark’.
The DfT recommends that seatbelts are professionally installed, for example by a commercial garage or seatbelt specialist.
Many older motorhomes and campervans came with side-facing seats, and while it is not illegal to travel in these seats – with or without seatbelts – the DfT advises against it because seatbelts are not designed to be used with such seats.
In the event of an accident, seatbelts on side-facing seats may help to prevent the wearer being thrown around the motorhome or from being ejected, but in a frontal crash they can actually increase injury risk by subjecting vulnerable parts of the body to higher loads than seatbelts used on forward-facing seats.
Whatever the layout of your motorhome, if you intend to carry children aged 12 years or under, seatbelt regulations require them to use a suitable child restraint – and these cannot be fitted to side-facing seats.
In order to fit the required child restraints, you would need to have forward or rearward-facing seats with full three-point seatbelts.
Planning to carry a few extra passengers?
While there is no specific legal limit to the number of passengers you can carry, the manufacturer will probably specify the maximum number that the vehicle is designed for and if that is exceeded, you may be in contravention of road traffic regulations.
Therefore, the DfT says that it’s important to confirm the number of passengers and the manner in which they will be carried with your motorhome insurance provider.
Fitting seatbelts in an old motorhome
As wearing seatbelts in the rear of a motorhome was not a legal requirement before 2007, many older models simply don't have them.
It is possible to fit seatbelts in an older motorhome but it is not a straightforward task, explains Classic Motorhome Owner. This is because these vehicles were not designed to have a seatbelt and do not have the structure to support the forces involved in a crash.
When retrofitting, seatbelts require secure anchorages to ensure they are able to withstand the forces arising in the case of a collision and this is a job for a specialist, the Camping and Caravanning Club says.
As well as checking your passengers are secure, make sure you have a suitable restraint in your motorhome for your dog. You could be breaking the law in the UK if your dog isn’t properly restrained when travelling.
According to Dogs Trust, dogs should travel in a securely positioned crate or cage or, if you use a harness for your dog, make sure it is appropriately sized and correctly fitted with the harness secured to the seatbelt attachment.
At Motorhome Protect, we can arrange specialist motorhome insurance to suit your vehicle and your budget.
Benefits can include unlimited cover across the European Union and unlimited mileage.
Cover of up to £150,000 is available for your vehicle, and up to £3,000 for camping personal effects.
We can also provide up to six months' cover to complete a self-restoration.
And if you have previous driving convictions, or have made insurance claims in the past, you may still be considered for insurance.
Get a quote from Motorhome Protect today and get ready for the holiday of your dreams!
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.