The federal and provincial rules about child safety seats in motor homes and RVs can be confusing. Here's what you need to know if you'll be driving a motor home or RV in Alberta.
WHAT'S THE LAW?
Here's where things can be confusing. Canadian federal laws state the following:
- child safety seats must be used in a designated position that has an approved seat belt (designated positions are forward or rear facing, never side facing)
- forward facing child safety seats must use the tether strap
- motor homes are not required to have tether anchor locations
And Alberta provincial laws state the following:
- children under the age of 6 who weigh 18kg (40lbs) or less must be in a properly installed child seat (booster seats are recommended but not required for older/larger children until an adult seat belt fits them properly)
- motor homes are not exempt from seat belt and child safety seat laws
So, here's what that means:
- In Alberta, provincial laws require you to properly restrain children (and all drivers and passengers!) in a motor home.
- Federal laws do not require motor homes to accommodate child safety seats.
- Motor home manufacturers, therefore, may not always make it possible for you to properly install a child safety seat in your motor home.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Make sure that all passengers, including children, are using the available occupant restraints whenever the motor home is moving.
- Check your motor home owner's manual to find out which seating positions in the vehicle are "designated seating positions" with seat belt assemblies. Sometimes, what looks like a lap belt is just a strap designed to hold things in place - it might not be a seat belt! Make sure you know where the real seat belts are.
- Do not drive with more passengers (children or adult) than there are seat belt assemblies.
- If the motor home does have tether strap anchor locations, they would be in a designated seating position. Check the manual to see whether and where there are anchor locations. If there are no anchor locations, consider securing the tether strap to a component of the vehicle that is part of the vehicle's metal frame. Do not secure the tether strap to wood or other interior framing (cupboards, floorboards, etc.).
- Make every effort to use the child safety seat correctly with the tether strap - even though the safety seat might not be completely properly installed and you may still get a ticket, this is still better and safer than having the child unrestrained.
If you are planning to purchase a motor home, make sure to talk to your dealer about whether and how the different models accommodate child safety seats. If possible, take your car seat or booster seat with you while shopping. Do the same if you are planning to rent a motor home. Ultimately, if you are not comfortable with the level of safety seat protection in the motor home, choose another motor home or vehicle.
Find out more about Alberta's occupant restraint laws.
Read up on RV safety tips.