This document provides general guidance and advice on the legislative requirements in Great Britain relating to the carriage of people in campervans. Every effort has been made to ensure that it is factually correct but recipients should check with the producers of this document if they are unsure about the validity of a particular regulation after the date of publication or if they have reason to believe any part is not correct or is now out of date.
Although it is not specifically illegal to travel in the accommodation area of a campervan, you should bear in mind that this area would not have been specifically designed for use when travelling and Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 (SI 1986 No. 1078) may apply. This requires:
a motor vehicle, and all its parts and accessories;
the number of passengers carried, and the manner in which any passengers are carried in or on a vehicle; and
the weight, distribution, packing and adjustment of the load of a vehicle
to be at all times such that no danger is caused, or is likely to be caused, to any person in or on a vehicle or on a road.
Further to this, Section 40a of The Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended by Section 8 of the Road Traffic Act 1991) Part II, Using a Vehicle in a Dangerous Condition, states that:
A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle or trailer on a road when:
the condition of the motor vehicle or trailer, or of its accessories or equipment; or
the purpose for which it is used; or
the number of passengers carried by it, or the manner in which they are carried; or
the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured;
is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person.
Our advice is that passengers are safest in a forward or rearward facing seat equipped with a three-point seat belt. Seat belt anchorage points should be designed so that they will be capable of withstanding the high forces of an impact and seat belts must comply with the latest British or European standards and be marked accordingly with either the ‘e’, ‘E’ or BS ‘Kitemark’. We strongly recommend that they are professionally installed by qualified persons (such as a commercial garage or seatbelt specialist).
Although side facing seats, with or without seat belts, are not illegal, we would not advise that they are used. This is because seat belts are not designed to be used with such seats. In the event of an accident, seat belts on these side facing seats may help to prevent the wearer being thrown around the vehicle or from being ejected, but in a frontal crash they can increase injury risk by subjecting vulnerable parts of the body to higher loads than seat belts used on forward facing seats.
If you intend to carry children aged 12 years or under, the seat belt wearing regulations require them to use a suitable child restraint. You should bear in mind that child restraints cannot be fitted to side facing seats. In order to fit the required child restraints, you would need to have forward or rearward facing seats with full three-point seat belts.
Whilst there is no specific legal limit to the number of passengers carried, the manufacturer will probably specify the maximum number that the vehicle is designed for and if that is exceeded, Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 or Section 40a of The Road Traffic Act 1991 may again apply. It is therefore important that you also confirm the number of passengers and the manner in which they will be carried with your insurance company.
Consolidated versions of National regulations can be found in Sweet and Maxwell’s Encyclopaedia of Road Traffic Law and Practice (Construction and Use) which should be available at most main reference libraries.
Copies of National legislation can also be purchased from:
TSO Orders/Post Cash Department
PO Box 29
Telephone: 0870 600 5522
Fax: 0870 600 5533 Email: email@example.com
The requirements for child car seat use can be viewed at: https://www.think.gov.uk/.
If you require any further information regarding the content of this information sheet, please contact the International Vehicle Standards Team at the address below:
International Vehicle Standards
Department for Transport
Zone 1/34, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR
NOTE: The information in this document is a summary of the department’s understanding of what the law requires. However, ultimately the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts based on individual facts of any particular case. You are therefore advised to consult the relevant legislation and, if necessary, seek independent advice.
Carriage of passengers in campervans