Warning Issued on the use of Seatbelt Buckle Guards

March 17, 2023
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On 9th February 2023 the Driver and vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) issued a warning to public service vehicle operators regarding the use of seatbelt buckle guards. This was followed by a further update shortly after.

Buckle guards are devices that cover the buckle of the seatbelt once it has been attached. They are primarily used to prevent children from releasing their seatbelts while a vehicle is moving. Investigations by the DVSA have found that they are relatively common in public service vehicles carrying children such as school and council vehicles.

However regulation 48 (4) of the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 requires that the buckle or other fastening of the seatbelt shall be:

  • So maintained that the belt can be readily fastened or unfastened.
  • Be kept free from any temporary or permanent obstruction.

Buckle guards could prevent the quick release of a seat belt in an emergency and would be considered an obstruction.

The DVSA have advised that where “evidence of the use of seatbelt guards was found during routine roadside inspections their first action would be to offer advice and guidance about vehicle and passenger safety” however operators should be aware that enforcement action could be taken.

The DVSA have stated they plan to continue working with groups such as the Department for Education, Department for Transport, schools, local authorities, and parents regarding the use of buckle guards and alternative methods that can be used.

The DVSA bulletins can be found at:

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKDVSA/bulletins/34637b8 – 1st bulletin

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKDVSA/bulletins/3496836 – 2nd bulletin

section 48 of the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations can be found at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1986/1078/regulation/48/made

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