The Law and Most Effective Use of Seatbelts in a Motorhome

Motorhome owners who are planning to take off on holiday in the near future should brush up on the laws relating to the use of seatbelts within a motorhome. Some of the confusion around using seatbelts in a motorhome comes from the fact that, as recently as five years ago, manufacturers did not fit seatbelts as standard other than at the front. Thankfully it is now a legal requirement for all seats to be fitted with working seatbelts. If a motorhome is involved in an accident, because of its weight and height, there will be a good chance it will roll over onto its side. This could cause serious or even fatal injury to anyone inside the vehicle and it is true to say motorhome insurance companies deal with such claims every year. For roll-overs, seatbelts reduce moderate-to-critical injury by over 80%. Although the law says it is okay to use seats where there is no belt, the potential ramifications of doing this make it a wise move to have seatbelts fitted in every seat which will be used while travelling around the UK and Europe.

Restraint systems are designed to keep people away from the motorhome structure and distribute the forces of a crash over strong parts of the body, with minimum damage to the soft tissues. Not all seatbelt types offer the same level of protection though; the 2-point belt reduces moderate-to-critical injury by 32% but the 3-point belt reduces it by 48%. For those riding in the rear of motorhomes the research showed that rear seatbelts are 73% better at preventing fatalities. There was talk of a law change due to happen in 2009 which would make it illegal to carry passengers un-belted, however, it never materialised. It means that for motorhomes built before 2007 it is still okay for passengers not to wear seatbelts. However, there are some laws regarding children of a particular size, weight or age. This might mean, in the absence of any belts in the back a child must use the front passenger belted seat, while an adult passenger travels in the back, in any circumstances children aged under 3 must be in a belted seat.

In the UK it is very unlikely that any motorhome insurance company will provide cover unless passengers in the back are in forward facing seats and have a 3-point seatbelt. Also not having seatbelts fitted to all seats could possibly mean the police might prosecute the driver for being reckless if there is an accident. The police or the insurance company will not look kindly should anyone be discovered using a seat that is not intended for travel.

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