TRANS-WP29-GRSP-37-inf20e.doc - Transmitted by the United...

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Transmitted by the United Kingdom Informal document No. GRSP-37-20 (37th GRSP, 23 – 27 May 2005, agenda item C.2.) GRSP- 37 th Session 23-27 May 2005 Agenda item C.2. Restraining of Children Travelling in Buses and Coaches SUMMARY OF UK RESEARCH ON WEARING OF ADULT BELTS ON MINIBUSES AND COACHES BY CHILDREN UNDER 3. Introduction The EU Directive on compulsory seat belt wearing (2003/20/EC) will require children over three years old to wear the seats belt provided in buses and coaches. There is currently an exemption from this requirement for children under three, but the European Commission has indicated that they may wish to review this exemption. The UK Department for Transport has asked TRL and VSRC to examine issues relating to the use of adult belts on coaches by children under three, to see if there is any justification to extend the mandatory seat belt wearing requirements to children in this age group. In particular, three aspects have been examined: 1) The risk exposure of this age group (i.e, the number of children under three who actually travel on coaches and minibuses). 2) Accident data related to the above group (based on the STATS 19 UK accident database) 3) The suitability of adult seat belts for a child’s body. The attached Annex summarises the information obtained. What is apparent is the very low use of coaches and minibuses by children in the pre-school age group. This not only indicates very low exposure to risk for children in this age group, but also highlights the difficulty in estimating the effect of restraint wearing on casualties, since the overall accident database is very small. The fitting trials indicated that children under three years old will all have a sitting shoulder height which is less than the 420mm that was considered the minimum for the satisfactory fit of the shoulder strap of a three point belt. The results have revealed no evidence to support the mandatory wearing of seatbelts in coaches for children under three, where those seat belts are likely to be adult belts. Ideally, children in this age group should be supplied with an appropriate child restraint. However, there are major practicality problems associated coach manufacturers and operators supplying child restraints. One option would be to require parents to supply child restraints for a particular journey. However, there are likely to be major child restraint/seat compatibility issues, particularly with coach seats which tend to be fitted with lap-only belts. The next phase of the project work will be to look at cost-effective solutions to allow children of all ages to be safely restrained in coaches.
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ANNEX 1. Exposure of pre-school children to minibus and coach travel A total of 22 out of 171 nurseries/playgroups contacted within two counties provided information in relation to children aged 0-3 years. From this, the annual travel by coach and minibus for these counties is presented in Table 1 below.
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