Safety Belts on Buses

From 31 October 2011 all buses involved in the organised transport of children are legally required to be fitted with appropriate and fit for purpose safety belts and restraint systems.

Mandatory safety belts for buses involved in the organised transport of children

Do you operate or hire buses/mini buses?

Bus owners and operators should be aware that from 31 October 2011 all buses involved in the organised transport of children are required to be fitted with the appropriate and fit for purpose safety belts or restraint systems for the number of children being transported.

Organisations and individuals who hire or contract bus services for transporting children should ensure that the vehicle used is fitted with safety belts.

Organised transport involves taking a group of three or more children on a dedicated trip.  This includes the transport of children:

  • to or from school 
  • on school trips
  • to sporting events
  • on all other organised outings

The safety belts or restraint systems on the vehicle must also be in compliance with the new legal requirements if the vehicle is to be used for the organised transport of children.

Statutory Instrument Number 367 of 2011 sets out these new legal requirements.

It will be illegal for a bus owner / driver to transport children on an organised trip if their vehicle’s safety belts or restraint systems do not meet with these legal requirements or if there isn’t the appropriate number of safety belts or restraint systems for the number of children being transported.

It is, therefore, very important that bus owners ensure their vehicle meets with these requirements before engaging in the transport of children.

An Information Note has been prepared setting out the requirements for transporting children on an organised trip after 31 October 2011.

Information for Bus Owners - Safety Belt Certification

What are the requirements at the roadworthiness test?

 Since 29th October 2010 bus owners have been required to present documentation at the roadworthiness test which confirms that the safety belts fitted to a bus meet a minimum standard.  

It is the legal responsibility of bus owners and drivers to ensure their vehicle(s) meet the minimum standards set out in Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations(PDF) when used on a public road.

A safety belt verification exercise has been introduced to assist bus owners in ensuring that the safety belt installation on their buses is of an acceptable standard and compliant with the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations.  

The safety belt verification exercise is a check to ensure that a vehicle has the relevant certification to show its safety belts were installed to a minimum standard of construction. The safety belt verification exercise will only be carried out once on each bus.

Since 29th October 2010 all bus owners have been required to have certification showing that the seatbelts were installed to the minimum standard when presenting their buses for the roadworthiness test.

A declaration must be signed stating that your bus has the correct certification.

It will not apply to buses registered after 29 October 2011 as these buses will have Whole Vehicle Type Approval and therefore the seatbelts fitted will already have met the required standard.

The safety belt verification exercise is distinct from the current safety belt check at the roadworthiness test which will continue to be undertaken on all vehicles fitted with safety belts. 

The safety belt check at the roadworthiness test ensures that safety belts are operating correctly and free from damage.

A bus owners/drivers legal responsibility

It is your legal responsibility to ensure that the vehicle which you drive or own, and all components of your vehicle (including its safety belts), do not pose a danger to you, your passengers or any other road user.  A leaflet(PDF) has been compiled setting out the penalties for using a dangerously defective vehicle on a public road and also the possible consequences of presenting false or invalid safety belt certification for a bus at its roadworthiness test.

How to obtain your certification

1. Buses fitted with safety belts from new may have certification to show they meet the relevant standards. Bus owners who do not have the certification can contact their main dealer or their vehicle manufacturer who may be able to provide written confirmation.

2. Bus owners who bought their vehicles with safety belts fitted and who do not have the appropriate certification should contact the company who installed the safety belts to see if this form of certification is available for their vehicle.

3. Bus owners, whose vehicles previously successfully completed the School Transport Scheme Visual Inspection can use the certificates received as confirmation of this for the seat belt verification scheme.

4. If a bus owner is unable to get certification in categories 1-3 above they can employ the services of a competent person to inspect their vehicle and certify that the vehicle meets the requirements.

Further details on obtaining certification can be found in the RSA Information Note(PDF). This information note sets out the background to the new requirements and details of the documentation that will be accepted by a Vehicle Testing Network Centre from 29th October 2010.

It also includes:

Completing the Safety Belt verification exercise

You should bring your certification to the VTN test centre when presenting your vehicle for its annual roadworthiness check.  You will be required to present the certification and sign a declaration to verify that your bus has the required certification for the installation of its safety belts.

On successful completion of the safety belt verification exercise the authorised tester at your VTN Test Centre will stamp the declaration and will give you the original stamped declaration.  It is very important that you retain this as proof that your bus has completed the verification exercise.  You will require this proof if you wish to engage in the organised transport of children after October 2011.

Contact us

The RSA has set up a help line to assist bus owners with any queries you may have in relation to your legal obligations, upcoming safety belt requirements for the organised transport of children and the safety belt verification exercise.

This help line is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. each day.  Please feel free to contact us at 096-25043  or vehiclestandards@rsa.ie if you have queries on any of the issues set out in this information note.

We also invite you to send your contact details to vehiclestandards@rsa.ie so that we can keep you updated on future developments in this area.

Safety Belts on buses consultation

In April 2010 the RSA undertook a review of the regulation, classification and safety issues associated with the fitting and wearing of safety belts on mini-buses, buses and coaches (buses) carrying children. As part of this review the RSA gave the opportunity to stakeholders to input into the policy relating to safety belts on buses carrying children. Further information on this can be found in our consultation section.