Seatbelts are one of the most necessary safety devices to have in vehicles and almost all the latest automobile models come with them. However, there is a lot of confusion regarding the use of seatbelts in campervans and motorhomes.
According to van laws, seatbelts are a legal requirement for all campervans and motorhomes. Hence, they must be worn especially by the front seat drivers and passengers. Not just adults, but children and pets should also be secured using child seats and pet seat belts.
In this article, I’ll discuss everything about using seatbelts in a campervan. Keep reading further to learn more!
Do you need seat belts in a campervan?
Seatbelts are mandatory in all vehicles including motorhomes and campervans. While most of the older campervans and motorhomes didn’t use to come with seatbelts fitted, the new models post 2012 include seatbelts in all the seats.
Coming to the answer, yes, you should use seatbelts in a campervan.
The deal is, regardless of the vehicle you’re using, you should use the seatbelts to ensure your safety and to avoid the risk of injuries. Seatbelts are mandatory for the front seat drivers as well as passengers, including small children and pets.
To have a more detailed insight, below are the van seat belt laws to look at.
Van seat belt laws
If your vehicle has seat belts, you must wear them according to the seat belt laws. Not just for cars and SUVs, this rule is applicable for the campervans as well. The good thing is, the newest models post 2012 come with seat belts fitted to the front and the back seats.
While the OLD classic models don’t come with seatbelts, you can easily get them installed on your own.
What happens if you get caught?
If you’re caught without wearing a seatbelt in a campervan and you don’t comply with an exemption, you could experience an on-the-spot penalty notice which could be anything around $130 or £100. Also note that, as a driver, you’ll be responsible for the children up to 14 for not wearing a seatbelt.
Every passenger above 14 is responsible for his own action and could be fined for the same. Rules and regulations do change according to the countries and states. But for safety reasons, you should wear and encourage all the passengers to use the seatbelts even if they aren’t mandatory in your state.
Do van seat belt laws differ based on where you sit?
Yes. Seat belt laws do differ based on where you sit. In most of the states, front-seat passengers and drivers should legally wear seatbelts while the ones sitting on the rear seats can be exempted from doing so. Again, this depends on the van seat belt laws in your state.
Do you need to wear a seatbelt in the back of a campervan?
So, do you really need to wear seatbelts in the back of a campervan? As per the rules, you must wear a seatbelt even if you’re on the rear seat of a campervan if it is fitted. And if there are no seatbelts on the rear seats then there is no legal requirement to wear the belts at all.
But, this is where you should think a bit differently. If a passenger on the rear seat is found without a seatbelt, the police could stop and fine the driver for endangering other passengers in the vehicle.
Another case is, if there is a high-speed crash, the unbelted passengers can harm the belted ones as they come out through the windscreen. Therefore, just because there is no legal requirement for wearing a seatbelt in the rear seats, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to do so.
You should prioritize the life of your family and friends instead of thinking about the cost of seat belt installation.
Installing seat belts in a campervan
A lot of older campervan don’t have pre-installed seatbelts. But the good news is, you can easily get them installed.
While fitting belts in older vehicles is not an easy task to do, it is totally worth the safety of yourself and others. The main issue with old vehicles is that they weren’t designed to have seat belts and don’t have the required structure to support the passengers during a crash.
Also, there are some obligations to consider before planning the installation of seatbelts in campervans. Let’s look into some basic questions regarding the same:
Can you install extra seatbelts in a campervan?
The simple answer is yes.
Before the year 2007, it was perfectly legal to manufacture a campervan without rear seat belts. So, it would be unfair to expect the older campervan models to have seatbelts.
After 2007, manufacturers started including seat belts in the rear seats keeping in mind the seat belt laws and most importantly the safety of passengers. While some newer models come with belts in all the seats, others include a structure where you can install the belts if you want.
Is it legal to install a seatbelt in a campervan?
Again yes. It is legal to add multiple seatbelts to a campervan.
But the deal is, you have to find a seatbelt that is strong enough to handle the forces involved in a crash. Generally, the seatbelt webbing is quite sturdy and reliable and it can easily handle a few tonnes. The real problem is not the quality of the seat belt, it is the type of structure you’re about to attach the belts on.
If your van doesn’t already have a designated place for the rear seatbelts, check whether or not the object you’re fitting the belt on to is capable of handling a couple of tons of force.
To deal with such forces, manufacturers prefer building the seatbelts on the actual chassis of the vehicles. They are designed into the structure of the van itself so that they can handle the greater amount of force exerted during a crash.
Installing a seat belt externally is difficult from the strength perspective.
But you can easily achieve a good and reliable seatbelt installation by considering a few factors such as the type of belts and the strength of the object you’re fitting the belt on to.
Many campervan owners attempt to fit the belts on the plywood walls which does absolutely nothing but gives an illusion of safety.
In such a case, the entire wall will come off along with the user during a crash. Also, if you install the belt on an extremely hard surface, you’ll end up hurting yourself by striking your head to that object during a crash.
So, the good idea is to consider the object or a surface that is neither too weak nor too strong.
What are the different types of seat belts available for a campervan?
There are some common types of seatbelts available for campervans.
1. Three-point seat belt
Three-point seat belts are the most common type of seatbelts used in the vehicles. These belts are found in almost all cars and other vehicles since the year 1960. Generally, they come with a lap belt portion and a belt that goes around your shoulder. This is the same as the seatbelt you’ve in your cars.
Three-point seatbelts are considered to be the best type of seatbelts for the campervan. These are able to prevent people from flying about during a crash and reduces the chances of injuries for the user and other passengers in the van.
2. Lap belt
Lap belts are generally installed in the back seats of the campervan. They need only two strong and reliable points for installation which makes them super easy to fit. The best thing about these belts is, they can also prevent passengers from flying about.
On the downside, the risk of spinal and internal injuries is a bit high with lap belts but it also depends on the intensity and severity of the crash.
3. Belts for side-facing seats
For the side-facing seats, lap belts are the only options as three-point belts can’t be installed on these seats. As we already discussed, lap belts have some downsides and can only prevent the injuries of others. They are still a good option to have than ignoring having belts on side seats.
Do pets also need seat belts in a campervan?
In many states, it is illegal to keep an unrestrained pet in a vehicle. They must be well strapped. Even if there is no such rule in your area, always consider restraining your pet to keep him and others safe during the journey.
For this purpose, you can use different kinds of harnesses and pet seatbelts. An unrestrained animal can cause a lot of distraction to the driver and can injure itself and other passengers if there is a crash.
And that’s a wrap! We have discussed everything about having seatbelts in a campervan, from the van seatbelt laws to the types of belts and how to install them. Whatever type of vehicle you have, you should definitely consider installing the seatbelts on both the front and the rear seats to ensure your and your passengers’ safety.
This was all about it. We hope it helps you in making the right decision.
If you need any more help with setting up your van, feel free to check out my other articles!