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New UN Regulation to enhance safety of transport of children in buses and coaches

New UN Regulation to enhance safety of transport of children in buses and coaches

bus kids

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. 

Note to editors   

UNECE has a long history of promoting road safety by leveraging relevant technical expertise through various working parties and groups, such as the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1) and the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29).    

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations is the primary global body responsible for the development of international motor vehicle safety standards and its regulations provide a legal framework for UN Member States to apply voluntarily. 

UN regulations adopted by the World Forum to protect vehicle passengers and other road users cover, among others, the following items: Safety-belts; safety-belt anchorages; airbags; electronic stability control; pedestrian protection; and ISOFIX child restraint anchorage points.   

The World Forum manages three Global Agreements on vehicles: 1958 Agreement (UN Regulations); 1998 Agreement (UN Global Technical Regulations); and 1997 Agreement (UN Rules on Periodic Technical Inspections). Any country that is member of the United Nations may participate in the activities of the World Forum and accede to the Agreements.  

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

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