Your complete guide to motorhome seatbelts and weight limits
If you’re thinking about buying a motorhome, there’s a certain amount of research you should do to make sure the model you’re buying suits your needs.
We discuss seatbelts and weight limits – arguably the most important things to check before you purchase a motorhome – with our Sales Executive, Andrew Maxwell.
The laws surrounding seatbelts in the UK are a bit of a grey area. You’ll find that different motorhome dealers will tell you different things. Although there seem to be no set rules, we have a few recommendations:
Q: Who needs to wear a seatbelt in a motorhome?
A: It’s fairly clear that the driver and passenger seats must have three-point seatbelts, but there is a lot of speculation around whether the other designated travel seats have to wear three or two-point seatbelts or, in fact, any belt at all. A lot of people tend to think that if they are sitting in the back of a motorhome, they don’t have to wear a seatbelt. We always advise our customers to ensure everyone travelling in a motorhome wears a suitable seatbelt while in motion. It’s also recommended that a side-facing seat should not be used as a designated travel seat.
If you’re looking into buying a motorhome, it’s also worth knowing that the number of berths the manufacturer declares is often only an indication of the amount of people that can sleep in it, not how many people it can carry. This can sometimes differ.
Q: What could happen if I don’t wear a seatbelt?
A: If you’re the driver of the motorhome, it is ultimately your responsibility to keep you and your passengers safe. This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but seatbelts are designed to keep you safe, so choosing not to wear them could result in an accident. If you do get into an accident, and the police deem the seating arrangement in your motorhome to be unsafe, the driver could face prosecution.
Note: To confirm whether you are travelling in your motorhome legally, you should check with your insurance company. The above are simply recommendations.
Motorhome weight limits
Something that’s often forgotten, but crucial to consider when buying a motorhome is payload limitations. Depending on the type of driving licence you have, you may only be able to drive motorhomes of a certain weight. When you use your motorhome, you’ll need to add extras to it like water, fuel, belongings and of course, passengers. This all adds to the overall weight, so even if you buy a vehicle within your maximum weight allowance, you will need to consider how much all the extras will weigh and whether that will potentially take you over your weight limit.
Q: What’s the maximum weight I’m allowed to drive?
A: Check your driving licence, namely your code categories. If you have a C1 driving licence you are legally allowed to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Unfortunately, most people who passed their test after 1997 won’t have this, so can only drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes. You can apply for a C1 on your licence by completing LGV/HGV Cat C1 training, passing a medical assessment and a driving test. You have to be at least 18 years old and already have a manual car (Cat B) licence.
Even if you passed your test before 1997, you will lose your C1 when you turn 70 years old. You can reinstate it by passing an eye test and medical assessment conducted by your doctor, and filling out the necessary forms on the DVLA website.
Q: How do I avoid buying a motorhome that’s too heavy and doesn’t allow for my personal belongings?
A: This can be tricky, as many manufacturers label the weight as the mass in running order (MIRO), which may exclude items such as extra gas bottles and leisure batteries. It’s important to read the small print before purchasing your vehicle so you understand how the quoted weight has been calculated, and therefore can conclude your payload.
Q: Is there a way to figure out my payload?
A: Your payload is the difference between the maximum weight of your vehicle, and what it actually weighs before you add all your stuff to it. Subtract the weight before, from the maximum weight and you have your payload.
To get your motorhome weighed, you can go to a local weighbridge or even a scrap metal yard, where they have a weight pad to give you the most accurate weight.
Q: My motorhome is overweight: what do I do?
A: Review everything you have packed onboard. Do you really need everything?
If your vehicle is still too heavy here’s your options:
- Consider whether your existing motorhome can be re-plated to a higher weight limit
- Replace it with a motorhome with a higher payload
- Get a trailer fitted to store your extra belongings while travelling
Note: You will need to check the maximum tow weight of your motorhome and your driving licence again before you purchase a trailer. You may only be eligible to tow a certain weight.
For more motorhome advice, speak to us on live chat, or contact us on 01493 601 696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.