Behaviours

Travelling with Children in Alternative Vehicles

Certain rules apply if you are travelling with your child in a motor home, vintage car, taxi or vehicle similar to a taxi.

Motor home

The following vehicles are considered motor homes:

  • recreational vehicle
  • motorized vehicle
  • modified van
  • modified pickup truck

The Highway Safety Code requirements are the same regardless of whether children are riding in a car or in a motor home. Children who are less than 145 cm tall or who are younger than age 9 must be seated in a child safety seat that is appropriate for their weight and height. The law also specifies that such seats must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

It is therefore important to check:

  1. the motor home owner’s manual to know whether child safety seats can be installed in the vehicle
  2. the car seat owner’s manual to know whether it can be used in a motor home

Subject to the information provided in the motor home and car seat owner’s manuals, here is some general guidance:

  • The car seat must be installed on a forward-facing seat or bucket seat. Car seat manufacturers usually do not authorize installing child seats on lateral seats or bucket seats that are rear facing.
  • If the passenger seat at the front of the motor home is equipped with one or more front airbags, do not install a car seat, except where authorized by the vehicle owner’s manual (e.g. if the airbags can be deactivated).
  • Child safety seats that are forward-facing require using the tether strap at the top of the seat. Some motor homes do not have an available anchor for attaching the strap, and no additional anchorage can be installed safely. Because car seat manufacturers require using this strap, it is not possible to install a forward-facing child seat in these types of motor homes.
  • Booster seats require the use of a 3-point seat belt, which has a lap belt and a shoulder belt. Many older models of motor homes are only equipped with 2-point seat belts. These vehicles cannot be used to carry children who must be seated in a booster seat.

Seats that are not equipped with seat belts

It may be tempting to use seats that are not equipped with seat belts to carry more passengers in a motor home (for example, seats around a table). However, if the manufacturer has not equipped these seats with seat belts, they are not meant to be used during transportation. The Highway Safety Code prohibits carrying more passengers than there are seats equipped with seat belts.

The SAAQ authorizes the installation of additional seat belts only if the manufacturer originally designed the motor home to allow for this option and all required parts are installed by a dealer in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications. The structure of the seats and the seat belt anchorages must have been designed and tested by the manufacturer to withstand the force generated by an occupant in the event of a crash. This is why it is sometimes impossible to add seat belts.

Vintage car

If you want to drive a vintage car and carry children less than 145 cm tall or younger than age 9, the law specifies that they must be seated in a child safety seat that is appropriate for their weight and height if the car is equipped with seat belts. However, depending on the characteristics of each car seat phase, it might be impossible to use a vintage car to transport a child.

Vintage cars are not equipped with anchors to attach universal anchorage system (UAS) connectors or car seat tether straps. In addition, vintage cars that are equipped with seat belts usually only have 2-point seat belts (lap belt only).

In light of the above, here is some general guidance (please note that in order to properly install your seat in compliance with specifications, you must always follow the instructions in the car seat owner’s manual):

  • Rear-facing seats (phase 1) can usually be secured with a 2-point seat belt. These types of seats should not pose any problem for use in a vintage car.
  • Front-facing seats (phase 2) require using the tether strap at the top of the seat—this is a regulatory requirement. Vintage cars do not have any available anchors to attach the tether strap. Front-facing seats therefore cannot be installed in vintage cars, unless the vehicle’s manufacturer has authorized the installation of the required anchorage.
  • Booster seats (phase 3) require the use of a 3-point seat belt, which has a lap belt and a shoulder belt. Because vintage cars only have 2-point seat belts, they cannot be used to carry children who must be seated in a booster seat.

If the vintage car was built in or before 1973 and is not equipped with a seat belt, you are exempted from the obligation to use a child safety seat (because it cannot be anchored in the vehicle).

Taxis and rideshare services

If there is no child safety seat, children are required to wear a seat belt.

If the child is too small to sit upright

Fasten your seat belt first, then hold the child in your arms. In other words, do not buckle up together: in the event of an accident, you could crush the child.

For safety reasons, riding in a taxi or using a rideshare service with a child should be avoided, except in an emergency, unless you are able to secure the child in a safety seat.

Last update: July 21, 2021