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Query re additional seatbelt and max weight


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Hi folks

Newby here. After caravanning for years and then hiring a motorhome we're buying a second hand Swift Escape 696. It comes with 5 travelling seats but the option of getting a sixth always seems to refer to increasing the payload and re registering the chassis.

For both my husband and I, we are pre-1997 driving licences so can legally drive the increased max payload. However there are only myself,my husband and our two kids. The additional seatbelt would only ever be used if the kids wanted to bring a pal for a weekend.


So my questions:

Is it legally permissible to carry a sixth person without a seatbelt (having seen clauses elsewhere "seatbelt must be worn if provided")? If so is there an age limit?

If we do get a sixth seatbelt then would we still be ok if we don't go over the payload?

Any other advice welcome.


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I think you could fall foul of invalidating your insurance if you did not declare the addition of an additional seat belt, and of course notifying them of an extra travelling seat, but quite frankly to achieve such a thing and with a mounting to comply with legislation would I think be either very costly, or probably not feasible.


People do take a chance and allow children to travel in the back unbelted sitting on side seats, I've seen that on many occasions, whether they've ever seen the consequences of a child being catapulted through the air is unlikely.

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Welcome to the Out&AboutLive forums, suduperth.


The legal requirements for a motorhome to be fitted with seatbelts and whether or not people travelling in the vehicle must be ‘belted in’ depend on the age of the vehicle and the age of the people. These links should help explain what is a quite complicated issue








I note that the current Escape 696 is marketed with 5 belted seats (2 in the cab and 3 in rear) and an optional 6th




while it’s evident from on-line adverts for earlier 696s and from this review



that versions with 4 belted rear travel-seats are quite common.


As an Escape 696 will have been manufactured post-2006 everyone travelling in it must be seated in a designated travel-seat fitted with a seatbelt and - where children aged over 3 and under 12 (and under 135cm tall) are concerned - a suitable child restraint (eg. a child’s seat or booster cushion) should also be used.


In the UK there is no direct legal link between a motorhome’s gross weight and how many people it can legally carry. The current Escape 696 - when marketed in basic format with 5 belted seats - has a Maximum Technical Permissable Laden Mass (MTPLM) of 3500kg and a stated Maximum User Payload of 485kg. When the 6th belted seat specification is opted for, the Escape 696 is marketed with an MTPLM of 3650kg.


Increasing the MTPLM by 150kg means that the payload increases similarly, offsetting the weight of the extra passenger that could now be legally carried, the weight of that passenger’s baggage and the weight of the modifications required to install the extra seatbelt. With a Maximum User Payload of 485kg, an Escape 696 OUGHT to be able to carry 2 adults and 4 small(ish) children on a weekend trip while comfortably remaining within an MTPLM of 3500kg, though quite likely not if it were carrying 6 adults.


As Bill says keeping an eye on the motorhome’s weight will be your responsibility, but there is no legal compulsion to uprate a 3500kg-MTPLM Escape 696 to a higher MTPLM merely because a 6th belted seat has been installed.


The Escape 696 is marketed with an optional 6th seatbelt, so it’s tempting to think that adding the extra belt should be simple. This may indeed be the case if Swift has fitted the ‘5 belt’ version with the necessary attachment strong-points on the chassis and the necessary strengthening frame on the inner rear-facing seat. If Swift has not done this, though, adding the extra belt could be both challenging and expensive. It’s reasonable to expect it to be simpler to fit an extra seatbelt to an Escape 696 than to another design that does not offer an optional extra seatbelt, but you’d be wise to confirm how straightforward adding the 6th belt would be in practice and how much it would cost.


As Joe90 says, you should check with your insurance provider that they are happy with the motorhome being modified to legally carry an extra passenger.

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Do not take a chance by carrying an unbelted passenger of any age. I was told that at 30mph, an unrestrained dog would catapult forward and do the same damage as a large, charging elephant.


Swift may be assuming a 6th seatbelt will house a 75kg adult plus the adult's personal belongings and the weight of any seatbelt mechanism. Hence the upgrade option. With a payload of 486kg,an average weight adult passenger of 75kg and 4 average weight children of 150kg, you could reduce that payload to 261kg less the weight of the extra seatbelt fittings. That means you would be restricted in what you take with you. However, you'll have to do the maths. You cannot legally go over the 3,500kg limit if that is your plated maximum.


A couple of things to think about when taking children away in the van. One is whether they will fight, as children do, or feel under the weather as we all do sometimes. We found we used a 5th berth from time to time when it was sensible to separate our two boys. When will your children be old enough to camp in a tent outside the motorhome?


Motorhoming with 2 children is great fun. With four? I wish you well with that.

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