Q&A - Do We Have to Use Seatbelts in a Motorhome?

Q&A ImageHow many people can legally sit in a moving motorhome? Does each occupant need a seatbelt?

We have to start on this question by looking at Division 39 MVAR:

It starts by defining where we need to sit:

39.001 In this Division, "designated seating position" means a seating position for which a seat belt assembly is provided or is required to be provided under the Act.

Essentially it is saying that the place we need to sit is one with seatbelts or is one that is supposed to have seatbelts.

Child restraint is dealt with separately from this part, so people aged 16 and older have to sit in a seat and there may be only one person in each seating position. ie: two people cannot share the same seatbelt.

39.01 A person who is 16 years of age or more and in a vehicle being driven or operated on a highway must

(a) remain seated in a designated seating position, and

(b) be the only occupant of that designated seating position.

Pretty simple so far, but now we have to look at exceptions to the rule. For motorhomes, there are two types of exemption depending on the model year of the unit.

For model year 1998 and earlier:

39.03 (2) Sections 39.01, 39.02 (b), (c) and (e) and 39.021 (a) do not apply with respect to each of the vehicles set out in subsection (3) if

(a) the vehicle was originally manufactured without seat belt assemblies for each seating position and the vehicle was not modified so that there is a seat belt assembly for each seating position, and

(b) every person in the vehicle is seated in a seating position provided by the original vehicle manufacturer.

This says that if the person is sitting in a seat that was provided by the maker of the motorhome that does not have a seatbelt, the person or driver does not commit an offence if the person is not seatbelted.

Note that the exemption is only effective if the passenger is seated in a seating position provided by the manufacturer. This would prohibit walking around or being in a place other than a seat.

For model year 1999 and newer, passengers 16 and older must be seated in a seat and be using a seatbelt. The driver is also responsible to make sure the passenger is restrained properly as well.

For passengers under the age of 16, we need to refer to Division 36 MVAR where the use of various types of child restraint is mandated.

What is important again are the exemptions:

36.09 This Division does not apply to the driver or operator

(a) of a motor vehicle licensed in a jurisdiction outside Canada if the driver or operator is using an infant or child restraint system, booster seat or seat belt assembly in compliance with the laws of that jurisdiction,

(e) of a motor vehicle that was not required to have a seat belt assembly under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) at the time the vehicle was manufactured or imported into Canada unless the vehicle was modified so that there is a seat belt assembly for an available seating position for a child,

If your motorhome is licensed outside of B.C., as long as you comply with the requirements of the jurisdiction where it is licensed you are proper here as well.

If your motorhome is licensed in B.C. and there is no seating position with a seatbelt suitable to use for child restraint, you are exempt from using it. This would also establish an onus to insure that the child gets the seating position with restraint in preference to those passengers 16 or older should one be present.

General seatbelt rules are found in Section 220 MVA.

As an aside, the rules prohibit carrying passengers in trailers and campers.