Seat Belts

Since 2006 it has been mandatory for everyone travelling in any kind of vehicle to wear SEAT BELTS wherever they are fitted.

Passengers must wear the seat belt if their seat is equipped with one (legally termed “available”). They will only need to wear the belt while they are actually seated and the vehicle is in motion. This allows passengers to move around within the coach, for example to visit the toilet. 

The driver and any crew member (eg tour guide) must wear the belt if their seat is equipped with one.

All passengers aged 14 and over are always legally responsible for putting on and wearing their own belts. 
The operator is required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that every passenger is notified that it is a legal requirement to wear an available seat belt. The operator may use any one or more of the four options permitted by the directive to fulfil this legal obligation:
  • The driver could make an announcement.
  • The courier, group leader or tour guide could make an announcement.
  • An audio or video presentation could be used (eg tape or TV). The announcement or presentation must be made when the passenger boards the vehicle or within a reasonable (unspecified) time period of boarding.
  • A sign prominently displayed at each passenger seat equipped with a seat belt. The sign must be either text or the specified pictogram (white figure wearing a 3 point belt against a blue background).  DfT has indicated flexibility regarding the provision of signs, and will accept one sign per double seat fitted to the window, luggage rack or woven into the seat material. The size of the sign is not specified, but should probably be at least 60mm diameter.
  • There will be a fine of up to £2500 where an operator fails to provide the necessary notification.
  • The regulations do not at this time require children less than 14 years of age to wear a belt in a bus or coach.


The requirement to wear belts and notify passengers is an EU wide obligation. The authorities of other Member States will enforce similar requirements.  Note that in some countries it is an offence to leave your seat while the coach is moving, even if you are a member of the crew.  Seat belt legislation has been used to prevent a hostess from serving coffee in a moving coach.

Child Restraints, Booster Cushions and Child Seats

The EU legislation covering the wearing of seatbelts only applies to children from their 3rd birthday.  In addition, the regulations place no requirement for child restraints to be provided for use in buses and coaches.  However, whatever the detailed regulations state it is worth considering the position under a risk assessment and your overarching duty of care towards your passengers. Under the same risk assessment and duty of care responsibilities it also advisable to avoid young children using the front or other exposed seats (middle rear seat, seats immediately behind emergency exit or middle door). Operators  have a number of choices open to them and it is suggested that a  company policy should be established  on how to deal with different ages and height of children and the different type of equipment that can be used and apply the policy consistently, having engaged your insurance company in the process of establishing such a policy.

Type of Equipment to Use

When establishing your company policy you will need to consider whether you will permit use of company equipment, passenger equipment, a combination of both or none at all.  If you decide to permit use of equipment your policy should consider:
  • Whether the equipment is kite marked or certified to an appropriate EU or British standard.
  • Age and condition of equipment.
  • Whether the equipment is suitable for the child’s age/height.
  • Suitability and compatibility of the equipment with coach seats.  It is advisable to check with the equipment and coach seat manufacturers.
  • Whether the coach is fitted with 2 point or 3 point belts and what type of belt the equipment needs to secure it.


Fitting/positioning of Equipment

Your policy should also consider who will fit the equipment and if they are competent to do so.  Consideration should be given to items such as:
  • that the routing of the belt through equipment is correct.
  • if the seat belt buckle lies across the frame of the child seat it will be under pressure and may spring open in an impact.
  • only seatbelt webbing should be in contact with the frame of the child seat.
  • the reclining pitch of the seat in front of where the equipment is to be fitted.


Use of 3 Point Seatbelts by Children

You may also want to consider the use of 3 point belts by children as part of your policy and consider the following points:
  • 3 point seatbelts are generally designed for passengers 150cm and taller.
  • Belts should be worn as tight as possible, go over the pelvic region not the stomach and the diagonal strap should rest over the user’s shoulder, not their neck. 



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