Project: Minibus/Coach Seat Belt Systems and Bus Secondary Safety Features

Reference: S081G/VC

Last update: 08/09/2003 13:08:27


This project will provide recommendations on the appropriate technical requirements for minibuses and coaches, based on a practical research programme. The results will be used to support UK prposals for long-term improvements to coach and minibus specifications within UNECE and EU legislation.


When accidents occur involving buses, minibuses or coaches they often involve a relatively large number of people in a single incident and this gives rise to public concern. Despite these types of vehicles being some of the safest forms of road transport in the UK, publicity given to accidents involving them has led to demands for safety measures, notably the installation of seatbelts in coaches and minibuses. This demand has been met to some extent in the UK by the requirement for all children, on journeys relating to school or other child activities, to be transported in vehicles fitted with seatbelts. Further UK legislation will require all new buses and coaches, apart from those specifically designed for urban use and standing passengers, to be fully equipped with seatbelts. The requirements for seatbelt anchorage strengths for minibuses and coaches are less demanding than for cars, because larger vehicles normally suffer less violent accelerations in accidents due to their higher mass.

The first stage of this study was to determine from accident and test data the impact severity in terms of vehicle velocity change and acceleration, of minibus accidents that typically result in serious and fatal injury. From this work, an appropriate 'crash pulse' was derived to use as a basis for laboratory testing of bodyshells and seat belt systems. Since this test pulse was more demanding than current regulatory requirements for seat belt anchorage strength, part of the project was to assess the feasibility of designing seat belt anchorage systems that would meet the enhanced requirements.


TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £647,000.00

Actual start date: 01 December 1994

Actual completion date: 31 March 2001


TRL 520. Bus and Coach Secondary Safety. Final Report
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 01/02/2002
ISBN: ISSN 0968-4107
Source: Contact:

PR/VE/173/95. Coach, Bus and Minibus Safety. Preliminary Accident Data Review
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 01/06/1995
Source: Contact:

PR/SE/347/97. Tests of Retro-Fit Seat Belts and Their Relevance to Visual Approval Methods
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 31/12/1997
Source: Contact
More information:

Summary of results

  1. The project showed that:

    * a more stringent crash pulse may be appropriate for testing minibus seat belt/anchorage systems;
    * some current designs tested would not meet the proposed tougher standard but, with careful attention to detail, it is possible for seat belt systems to meet the proposed requirements; and
    * it was possible, with a certain degree of confidence, to introduce a visual check as part of the annual vehicle test to assess some aspects of seat belt anchorage systems, based on the results of a static load testing programme of representative samples.