The majority of the buses and coaches currently in use worldwide are not equipped with safety-belts. And if they are, they are equipped with safety-belts designed to protect adults by means of 2-point or 3-point harness seat belts. These types of safety-belts are not suitable for use on and by children because they could lead to serious injuries and event fatalities in road crashes.
According to the European Road Safety Observatory, in bus/coach crashes in the European Union, 18% of the fatalities are the passengers in the buses and coaches themselves. And the consequences of a collision are often serious for the victim due to the mass of these vehicles.
To ensure safer transport of children and prevent serious injury and fatality in case of rollovers and frontal impact, the new UN Regulation adopted by the UNECE’s World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations WP.29 stipulates the use of special integrated child seats with tailored belts for children in buses and coaches.
The new regulation relies on the provisions for the use of Child Restraint System (CRS) for cars specified in UN Regulation No. 129, which came into force in July 2013. In practice this means allowing for the fitting of any child restraint system approved according to UN Regulation 129 in buses with seating positions equipped with 3-point harness safety-belts or ISOFIX anchorages.
The new UN Regulation was adopted by all contracting parties to the 1958 Agreement. In addition to the 58 contracting parties, UN vehicle regulations are often applied by other countries using them as a basis for national legislation.
The applicability of the new regulation will be defined by national authorities. In case buses and coaches are already equipped with a built-in CRS system, they will need to be approved according to the new UN regulation.
Since 90% of the existing bus fleet on the market is equipped with 2-point safety-belts, the next phase of regulatory work concerns the repurposing their 2-point harness safety-belts for use by children. This phase is expected to end in December 2025.