Sarah WakelySee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Sarah Wakely
WHAT WOULD YOU consider to be the most important piece of kit in your motorhome? Is it your flatscreen television, your SOG toilet system or your satellite dish? Cast your eyes a little further forward – the small strips of fabric that lie innocently alongside your cab seats is perhaps the most crucial, if innocuous, bit of equipment that you’ll ever use on tour.
That revelation is particularly pertinent right now, as it’s 30 years to the day that wearing a seatbelt in the front seats of a car became compulsory. It’s tricky to imagine a time when going beltless was the norm, but that all changed on 31 January 1983 with the introduction of strict new laws; along with them came the famous ‘clunk click’ slogan that most people over the age of 35 will recall.
Sadly, the message hasn’t yet hit home with everyone: recent figures from the Institute of Advance Motorists suggest that as many as four per cent of motorists still fail to buckle up when driving. The stats are even more shocking for those travelling in the rear of a vehicle: despite relevant laws introduced in 1991, eleven per cent of rear-seat passengers don’t wear a seatbelt.
So, here’s a timely reminder on the law as it stands right now. If a seatbelt is fitted, it must be worn, and only one person is allowed to use each belt (so no small children perched on your lap). Children must use the correct car seat for their weight until they reach their 12th birthday, or 135cm tall – whichever is soonest (for more on child car passengers, see www.childcarseats.org.uk).
As for the rear of your ’van: it’s illegal to lie in the bed of a motorhome, sit on an unbelted side-facing seat or use the washroom of a moving ‘van if there’s a belt fitted in which you could be sitting. Even if there isn’t, picture the consequences of finding yourself in one of these situations in the event of even a lower-speed accident. The message is simple: if there isn’t a seatbelt in the rear of your ’van, don’t carry passengers back there.
Choose to ignore the law and you could find yourself up to £500 out of pocket. But the real danger isn’t that you’ll be caught and fined: it’s that you’ll be caught out in the event of an accident. And then you’ll really wish that you’d employed the tremendous power of that innocuous piece of fabric.