Q&A - Booster Seat in a Motorhome

Q&A ImageQuestion: We are going on a drive through Canada and the US in a large motorhome that only has shoulder strap seatbelts for the driver and co-pilot. All other seatbelts are lap-belts only. What do we do about our son and his booster seat?

Should he ride in a back seat without his booster seat?

image of a child in a booster seat

Guess who gets to ride shotgun!

If there is a seat other than the drivers seat available with a lap and shoulder belt, your 7 year old must be in it using the booster seat. If not, then he should be secured with a lap belt only.

When Not To Use a Booster Seat

There is one situation where your child should not be in a booster seat and that is when there is only a lap belt for the seat that they will be using.

What About the Airbag?

Having said that, now we need to consider if that co-pilot seat has an airbag or not. If it does and it can be disabled, it's not a problem. If it cannot, it appears that the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations still requires that he use the seat with the shoulder belt.

There is only exemption from using that position if the restraint type required is a rearward facing seat.

These rules are all found in Division 36 MVAR.

Transport Canada Advice

Booster seats are meant for children who have outgrown their forward facing child seats and who weigh at least 18 kg (40 lb). They raise the child and help keep the vehicle’s adult seat belt where it needs to be, to help protect your child.

This does not override the requirements of the MVAR however.

Rules May Vary in Other Jurisdictions

Finally, these are the rules that apply in British Columbia. I cannot say if they may be different in other provinces or states.

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Sorry I don't quite understand the 1st paragraph. Are you saying that if the co-pilot seat has no airbag/has an airbag that can be disabled, then Junior rides shotgun in his booster seat?

In your case, I'm guessing that there are 3 of you: your husband, who most often is the driver, (I know, I'm being stereotypical here, but I mean no insult.) you (the mother) and son (who needs the booster seat).

Husband gets the driver's seat with lap and shoulder belt. Now it comes down to deciding who gets the other front seat with the lap and shoulder belt. Traditionally, that's the spot for the other adult. Legally, your son must now be considered first and he gets it, while you would take one of the other seating positions left that have only lap belts.

It actually doesn't matter about the airbag if one is present. He still gets the front seat. It's up to you to decide whether you disable it or not if it can be disabled. If it can't, the Canada Safety Council tells you not to worry about it.

The decision gets a bit more complex depending on the seating configuration, types of seatbelts present and the number and ages/sizes of the other passengers. Children in booster seats and forward facing car seats trump adults for possession of seats with lap and shoulder belts.