DVSA has highlighted to operators of coaches, buses and minibuses used to carry children that they must not fit seatbelt buckle guards.
The Agency says that such guards “are often used on school or local authority transport,” but adds that use of them contravenes the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. Regulation 48(4)(d)(i) of that requires the buckle to be maintained so as that the belt can be readily fastened and unfastened.
Multiple seatbelt buckle guards are available from various e-commerce sites. They fit over the OEM buckle and prevent the seatbelt from being released, sometimes without a special key. Fitment of such buckle guards “is a deliberate and intended addition to the seatbelt and is not exempt under regulation 48 of the Regulations,” DVSA adds.
Use of the guards poses “a significant safety risk” and if they are discovered on a PSV by the Agency’s examiners then the operator will face enforcement action, it continues.
Section IM 3 of DVSA’s categorisation of vehicle defects manual states that a seatbelt fitted to a PSV and which is modified and not capable of performing its intended purpose will attract an immediate prohibition when the seatbelt is in use, and a delayed prohibition when it is not in use. A dangerous feature of a seatbelt restraining system will likewise attract an immediate prohibition.
Consumer magazine Which? has previously pointed out that buckle guards slow the seatbelt removal time and means that the buckle no longer meets legal requirements.