Here’s another of our “FAQs” series of blog posts, in which Lisa explains an important recent update to the Go Cotswolds Terms & Conditions regarding children on our tours.
After much consideration, we at Go Cotswolds have decided to update our Terms & Conditions such that, effective immediately for all new bookings, children under the age of 3 years are not permitted to travel on our minibus unless: 1) you (as the parent/guardian) can provide and fit an age-appropriate car seat for your child to travel in, AND (for Cotswolds Day Tours) 2) you purchase a ticket for your child.
Why the change?
First and foremost, let me say that we are not “anti-children” in any way – far from it in fact! Tom and I are the parents of a young daughter (pictured left, trying to squirm out of a selfie!), and we love welcoming children and families on our tours – the Cotswolds has something for everyone!
However, speaking as the mother of a toddler who is currently in the throes of the “terrible twos”, I know first hand that children, especially little ones, get bored very easily and may not appreciate the beautiful Cotswolds countryside as much as us grown-ups do!
Aside from toddler tantrums and the inability to sit still, the main reason we have decided to change our policy on children under the age of 3 is simple: safety.
To help explain the reason behind this policy change, here is some information about the laws on wearing seatbelts in the UK – which may also be helpful for anyone visiting the UK from another country regardless of whether you are coming on our tour or not!
UK laws on seatbelts – private cars
In private vehicles, ALL passengers over the age of 12 years old must wear a seatbelt where these are fitted. Unless they are over 1.35 metres tall, passengers under the age of 12 years must use a car seat or booster seat that is appropriate to their age, weight and/or height (and for babies under 15 months old, this seat must be rear-facing). You can find out more about the rules for wearing seatbelts here: https://www.gov.uk/seat-belts-law and specific information about child car seats here: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules.
However, for taxi and bus/coach companies (including minibus operators like us), it is recognised that it would be practically impossible for operators to carry all of the different car seats and booster seats for children of all ages, weights and heights. Therefore, we are not under any legal obligation to provide such seats, and the law on wearing seatbelts in licensed passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs) is slightly different.
UK laws on seatbelts – PCVs
In our minibus, and in buses, coaches and taxis, all passengers over the age of 3 years must have their own seat and use the seatbelt (if one is provided) whenever the vehicle is in motion.
For children up to the age of 14, it is the parent or guardian’s responsibility to ensure that their child is wearing a seatbelt. Children and adults aged 14 and over are responsible for themselves. Passengers can be fined up to £500 if caught not wearing a seatbelt when they should be!
However, children under the age of 3 years are not permitted to wear an adult three-point seatbelt on PCVs. This is because these seatbelts are designed for adult use, and – in the event of an accident – a small child could be much more severely injured by wearing an adult seatbelt than if they were not wearing a seatbelt at all.
In minibuses, coaches, buses and taxis, therefore, children under the age of 3 may legally travel seated on an adult’s lap without being restrained by a belt. They must not sit in their own seat with or without a seatbelt (unless an appropriate car seat is used), and they may not travel in the front seats. Please see here for more information: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/when-a-child-can-travel-without-a-car-seat
BUT: while it is legal for children under the age of 3 to travel on an adult’s lap without a seatbelt, Tom and I feel very uncomfortable about allowing this on our vehicles. Since becoming parents ourselves, we just couldn’t bear to imagine a situation in which our daughter, or any other small child, was injured on our minibus because she wasn’t appropriately restrained.
Therefore, despite the law, it is our policy that children under the age of 3 years old will only be permitted to travel on our minibus if the following conditions are met:
- You (as the parent/guardian booking the tour) must provide a car/booster seat that is appropriate to your child’s age/height/weight AND
- You must fit this car/booster seat to one of the rear passenger seats in our minibus, yourself, using a three-point seatbelt (there are no isofix points on our passenger seats) AND
- (For Cotswolds Day Tours) You (as the parent/guardian booking the tour) must purchase a child ticket for the child under 3 (children under 3 can also be included on our family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children).
As parents who travel, we know this policy may come as a disappointment to families who hoped to bring their little ones on a tour with them – we know that other tour companies may have a different policy, and that the laws and customs in other countries can be very different! However, we hope you appreciate the reasons for our decision.
Top image by Don Chu Viet; seatbelt image by cfarnsworth (Pixabay). All others © Go Cotswolds