Safety Signs Blog

Why displaying coach and bus seatbelt signs is so important

8th December 2010 | Health and Safety Signs

Posted by David Arnold

Before getting into the obligations of seatbelt legislation it is worth reminding all readers of why the sign saying “wear your seatbelt” is shown. Bus or coach operators who display signs reminding people to wear seatbelts could well save the lives of their passengers and employees alike. The fact that this sign helps these same operators avoid a fine of up to £2,500 has no bearing on why it has been in so much demand in recent times!

The Background to seatbelt signs

The requirement for seatbelt signs comes from the introduction of The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) (Amendment) Regulations in 2006. Introduced on the 18th September of that year, these amendment Regulations swept up changes to existing legislation like the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993.

The Seatbelt Legals

Essentially this legislation demands that all buses and coaches (including mini buses) carrying eight or more passengers must ensure all 14 and overs wear their seatbelt where one is provided.

As with plenty of other pieces of health and safety legislation, the onus is not on the 14 and overs to look after themselves – it is on the provider of the service to ensure that this is done. Moreover, if seatbelts are not used, it is the operator who will be held accountable and not the passenger.

Under Section 15B of the Road Traffic Act 1988 that was brought into the amendment regulations, the operator must take all reasonable steps to ensure that “every passenger is notified that he or she is required to wear a seatbelt when he/she is in a seat that has a seat belt and the bus is in motion”. In essence, simply making seat belts available on the bus or coach is not enough. Operators must instruct passengers to then use the seatbelt.

Communicating Seatbelt Use

According to Section 15B(2) of the Road Traffic Act, this can be done in a number of ways:
  • Ask the driver or co-driver to make an official announcement whenever someone new gets on the bus/coach
  • Develop an audio or visual presentation
  • Display a sign “prominently at each passenger seat equipped with a belt”


With a choice of communication methods, most coach operators will instantly look towards the most efficient and cost-effective method. Their thought process could well be along the following lines:

An official announcement will add to the workload of the driver. Moreover, should anything happen while the bus or coach is in transit, post-incident it is hard to prove that any affected passenger actually heard the official announcement.

The second option of an audio or visual presentation would be easier to demonstrate in a court of law, but it is incredibly tedious for the driver and passengers alike. Potentially making the passenger’s journey a less pleasurable one may also not be that good for business.

Finally, the third option of displaying a permanent seatbelts must be worn sign. This is easy to install, inoffensive, low maintenance and costs less than £1 per seat. When considered in these terms, the sign is by far the most appealing method of the operator discharging his duty of care to his passengers.

…and with fines of up to £2,500 for breaching these Regulations, the sign’s cost is a very small price to pay!

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