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Do we Need Car Seats in Our Mini Bus?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 11 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Minibus Seatbelt Regulations Child Car

Q.

I am a teaching assistant in a school and the mini bus driver for the school. Are you able to tell me how the law stands with car seats and mini buses, we were told when the law first came into force that the children did not need car seats in the mini bus.

The buses are 17 seater including the driver and the children range from 7-11 so many would be under the height guidelines. Do we need car seats?
(Mrs sally turner, 9 October 2008)

A.

Since the law changed in September 2006, all children travelling in cars have been required to use the right kind of car seat or restraint, which they need to do until they are either 12 years old, or they reach 135cm tall - whichever comes first. Affordable child booster seats are available from well known suppliers.

Once they reach this point, they are required to use adult seat belts. It is up to the driver of the vehicle to make sure that anyone travelling with them under the age of 14 is restrained properly, and they will be held liable if this doesn't happen. Once over the age of 14, people are considered to be responsible for themselves.

Minibuses

There are slightly different regulations surrounding minibuses, that vary depending on the size and weight of the minibus in question.

Smaller Minibuses

Passengers travelling in a minibus that has a weight of 2,540kg (with no-one on board) or less must wear seat belts that are provided in the vehicle. Again, this is the responsibility of the driver to enforce and they must make sure that:

  • if any children under 3 are travelling, then appropriate child restraints are used if available
  • If children aged between 3-11 years old or under 1.35 metres tall are travelling, then they should be restrained appropriately, or if that is not possible, wear available seat belts where available.
  • Children between 12-13 or taller than 1.35 metres should wear a seat belt, where available.

As with cars, passengers who are over 14 years old are responsible for wearing a seatbelt.

Larger Minibuses

Any passengers over 14 carried in a minibus that weighs over 2,540kg unloaded must wear seat belts if available. However, the law does not require passengers in the back of such minibuses to wear seat belts.

In your case the 17 seater minibus is probably exempt, although you would need to clarify this by checking the weight. However, all passengers are strongly advised to wear seat belts on all journeys.

School Journeys

If the minibus was registered before 1 October 2001 then they must have a forward-facing seat for each child that will be transported, fitted with either a 3-point seat belt or a lap strap.

All minibuses and coaches registered on or after 1 October 2001 (whether they carry child or adult passengers) must have forward-facing or rearward-facing seats.

Seat belts are really designed for adult wear, so ideally, any children carried on a minibus would use the suitable car seat or booster cushion for their height and weight, however it's not always going to be possible because the driver isn't likely to be able to provide all the different types and sizes of child seats that they will need in such circumstances. Because of this, it's likely that most children will end up wearing a standard sized seat belt. If this is the case, make sure that:

  • The seatbelt is pulled as tight as possible
  • The cross strap should go over the child's shoulder, and not over their neck
  • The belt over the lap should not cover the stomach, but the pelvic region.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
?-is there such a carseat or mini bus available to carry 3-4yr. old preschool with shoulder straps on every seat on minibus?
nwagilas - 18-Sep-12 @ 6:24 PM
I wonder about the laws on travelling in the back of company vans
alan saxton - 7-Oct-11 @ 5:28 PM
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