Seatbelts and Anchorage Points
The Construction and Use Regulations (1986) relating to seatbelts and their anchorage points are a set of lengthy Regulations. The application is as follows:
- 46. Seat belt anchorage points
- 47. Seat belts
- 48. Maintenance of seat belts and anchorage points
- 48A. Minibuses and coaches to be fitted with additional seat belts when used in certain circumstances
It would be possible to set aside a series of pages dealing specifically with this subject, however, we have kept this part as concise as is practicable, but would suggest that all the C&U Regulations relating to this subject are considered reading.
Regulation 47(1) Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states that seatbelts are required to be fitted to a motor vehicle to which Regulation 46 applies (see table below).
A seatbelt is required to be fitted in each forward-facing passenger seat for each child being carried in the vehicle (excluding disabled children in wheelchairs). If the coach or minibus concerned was first used on or after 1st October 2001 rearward-facing seats fitted with seatbelts which meet requirements may also be counted towards the total. Excludes local bus services and buses with more than 16 passenger seats not exceeding 7500kg gross or buses over 7500kg but with a max speed of less than 60mph i.e. buses which are neither minibuses nor coaches.
Anchorage Point and Seatbelt Fitting Requirements
Regulations 46(3) and 47(2) Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986
|1.||Any vehicle first used before 1/4/1982||driver and specified passenger seat||driver and specified passenger seat|
|2.||Minibus with not more than 12 seats in addition to driver, motor ambulance, motor caravan, first used on or after 1/4/1982 and before 1/10/1988||driver and specified passenger seat||driver and specified passenger seat|
|3.||Minibus (not included in 7 or 8 below) not exceeding 3500kg gross, motor ambulance, motor caravan, first used on or after 1/10/1988||driver and each forward facing front seat||driver and each forward facing front seat|
|4.||Goods vehicle exceeding 3500kg gross first used on or after 1/10/1988 and before 1/10/2001||driver and each forward facing front seat||Seatbelts not required|
|5.||Goods vehicle exceeding 3500kg gross first used on or after 1/10/2001||driver and all forward facing front seats||driver and each forward facing front seat|
|6.||Coach first used on or after 1/10/1988 and before 1/10/2001||driver and all exposed forward facing seats||driver and all exposed forward facing seats|
|7.||Bus exceeding 3500kg gross, first used on or after 1/10/2001, (not an urban bus)||driver and all forward facing and rearward facing seats||driver and all forward facing and rearward facing seats|
|8.||Bus not exceeding 3500kg gross, first used on or after 1/10/2001, (not an urban bus)||driver and all forward facing and rearward facing seats||driver and all forward facing and rearward facing seats|
|9.||Passenger or dual-purpose vehicle (other than a bus) not in items 2 to 8, first used on or after 1/4/1982||every forward facing seat constructed or adapted to accommodate no more than 1 adult||driver and specified passenger seat and, if first used on or after 1st April 1987, any forward facing front seat alongside the driver's seat and certain forward facing rear seats|
|10.||Vehicle (other than a bus) not in items 2 to 9, first used on or after 1/4/1982||every forward facing front seat and every non-protected seat||driver and specified passenger seat and if first used on or after 1st April 1987 any forward facing front seat alongside the driver's seat.|
Not every anchorage point requires a seatbelt however. The type of seatbelt required depends on the vehicle and seat position to which it is fitted.
Exemptions To Fitting Seatbelts
Regulations 47(4) and (4A) Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 Seatbelts are not required to be fitted to :-
- a vehicle being used under trade licence,
- a vehicle which is not type approved being delivered to distributor or purchaser.
- seats which are fitted with EC Approved or BS approved belts (BS AU183: 1983, BS 3254: 1960 or BS 3254:Part 1:1988) or of corresponding EU standards,
- a specially constructed or adapted disabled persons vehicle with a disabled persons belt for an adult fitted to the drivers seat or the specified passenger's seat,
- a goods vehicle exceeding 3500kg gross first used on or after 1/10/1988 and before 1/10/2001,
- a vehicle constructed or adapted for the secure transport of prisoners in relation to seats for persons other than the driver and any front seat passenger.
Buses and Coaches
Requirement to notify bus passengers to wear seatbelts;
Section 15B Road Traffic Act 1988 - summary offence - level 4 fine
[It is an offence for the operator of a bus in which any of the passenger seats are equipped with seat belts to fail to take all reasonable steps to ensure that every passenger is notified that he is required to wear a seat belt at all times when he is in a seat equipped with a seat belt, and the bus is in motion.
Notification can be by an official announcement, or audio-visual presentation, made when the passenger joins the bus or within a reasonable time of his doing so or by a sign prominently displayed at each passenger seat equipped with a seat belt.
A bus :-
- used to provide a local service in a built-up area where the entire route consists of restricted roads, or
- a bus which is constructed or adapted for the carriage of standing passengers and on which the operator permits standing.]
Fitting of Seatbelts on Buses used to Carry Children
Regulation 48A Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986
A coach or minibus used wholly or mainly for the purpose of carrying a group of 3 or more children (aged 3 or over to under 16 years) on an organised trip where the journey is being made for the purposes of the trip. Includes:
- (but not limited to) children being carried to or from school or from one part of school premises to another,
- both private vehicles and those used for hire or reward,
- minibuses and coaches, irrespective of age.
The definitions encompass vehicles which may not look like a minibus but non-the-less have more than 8 passenger seats.
Do not apply to vehicles:
- being used in the provision of a bus service which attracts a fuel duty rebate (eligible local bus services),
- used wholly or mainly for the purpose of providing a transport service for the general public,
- which are neither minibuses nor coaches - eg: buses which have more than 16 passenger seats but which do not exceed 7.5 tonnes gross or have a maximum speed which does not exceed 60 m.p.h..
Maintenance of Seat belts (Inc anchorage points)
Regulation 48 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986
Where a seat belt is required to be fitted (by Regulation 47), the seat belt and every anchorage point, fastening, adjusting device and retracting mechanism (if any) for that belt must comply with the following requirements:
- all load bearing members of the vehicle and panelling within 30 centimetres of each anchorage point must be free from serious corrosion, distortion or fracture,
- the adjusting device and, if fitted, retracting mechanism of the belt must be maintained to adjust automatically, or manually according to its design,
- the seat belt, anchorages and fastenings shall be maintained free from any obvious defect which would be likely to affect their performance,
- the buckle and fastening mechanisms shall be maintained and kept free from obstructions and, except for disabled persons seat belt, be readily accessible to a person sitting in the seat,
- the webbing of the belt must be maintained free from cuts or other visible faults likely to affect performance, - the ends of belt must be securely fastened to anchorage points provided,
- a disabled persons belt must be securely fixed to the vehicle or seat so the occupant would be restrained in the event of an accident.
These requirements also apply to:
- every anchorage point with which a goods vehicle exceeding 3500kg gross first used on or after 1/10/1988 and before 1/10/2001 is required to be provided,
- the mountings of the seat to a vehicle where the seat incorporates integral seat belt anchorages.
Anchorage points provided for seat belts shall be used only as anchorages for the seat belts for which they are intended to be used or capable of being used.
The above requirements do not apply if:
- the defect occurred on that journey, or
- steps have been taken to have the defect rectified with all reasonable expedition.
Wearing of Seat belts
Requirement to wear seatbelts (front and rear)
Regulation 5 Motor Vehicles (Wearing Seat Belts) Regulations 1993
Every person aged 14 years or more who is:
- driving, or
- riding in the front or rear seat of,
any motor vehicle (other than a two wheeled motor cycle with or without a side car) shall wear an adult belt where one is available.
Section 14(3) Road Traffic Act 1988 - level 2 fine - fixed penalty offence - summary offence
It is an offence for a person to drive or ride in a motor vehicle in contravention of the Motor Vehicle (Wearing Seat Belts) Regulations 1993.
No person other than the person actually committing the contravention is guilty of an offence.
Where the person is under the age of 14 years - see summary below.
Exemptions from wearing a seatbelt
Regulation 6 Motor Vehicles (Wearing Seat Belts) Regulations 1993
The following persons are exempt from the requirement to wear an adult seat belt:
- a person holding a medical certificate,
- [the driver of or a passenger in a goods vehicle on a journey not exceeding 50 metres undertaken for delivering or collecting anything],
[Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 - 01/03/2005]
- a person driving a vehicle while performing a manoeuvre which includes reversing,
- a qualified driver supervising a provisional driver while performing a manoeuvre which includes reversing,
- a person conducting a test of competence to drive and the wearing of a seat belt would endanger himself or any other person,
- a person driving or riding in a vehicle while it is being used for fire brigade (or Fire and Rescue Authority) or police purposes, or for carrying a person in lawful custody including the detained person himself.
- the driver of a licensed taxi while being used for seeking hire, or answering a call for hire, or carrying a passenger for hire, or a private hire vehicle while it is being used to carry a passenger for hire,
- a person riding in a vehicle, being used under a trade licence for the purposes or investigating or remedying a mechanical fault in the vehicle,
- a disabled person wearing a disabled persons belt, or
- a person riding in a vehicle while taking part in a procession organised by or on behalf of the crown or which is commonly or customarily held, or a procession which a notice under Section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986 has been issued.
- the driver of the vehicle if an adult seat belt is not provided,
- a person in the front of a vehicle if no adult belt is available for him in the front,
- a person in the rear of a vehicle if no adult belt is available for him in the rear,
- a person riding in a small or large bus which is being used to provide a local service in a built-up area (where the entire route consists of restricted roads), or
- a person riding in a small or large bus which is constructed or adapted for the carriage of standing passengers and on which the operator permits standing.
The under mentioned exceptions and exemptions apply in all cases;
- If a seatbelt is fitted in the front or rear of any motor vehicle and the seat is occupied then the belt must be worn - even where there is no legal requirement for a belt to be fitted, if fitted it should be worn;
- Each passenger is responsible for wearing a seatbelt except where that passenger is under 14 years old - the responsibility then shifts to the driver (except in large buses or taxis with a fixed partition);
- If there are more people than available seatbelts in a vehicle, consideration should be given to the manner in which the unbelted passengers are being carried and whether or not it presents a danger of injury to them or a belted occupant of the vehicle (Section 40A Road Traffic Act 1988). A belt may not be available if there are too many people in the seat for the belt to be worn (regulation 2(6));
- If a seatbelt does not work because of lack of maintenance or it is locked because the vehicle is or had been on a hill, proceedings for failure to wear a seatbelt are unlikely to be successful.