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PLUS ONE: Can licensed taxis and PHVs carry an extra child passenger?

The question of whether licensed taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) can carry an additional child on the lap of an adult passenger has long been discussed.

According to current UK regulations, infants under the age of three can sit on the laps of adults without the need for a seatbelt.

A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Transport for London (TfL) inquired whether a minicab licensed to carry four people could, in practice, accommodate four adults and an additional infant under the age of three. TfL referred to Government Best Practice guidance in their response which suggested that it was a bad idea.

The guidance clarifies: ‘Given the benefits of seatbelts, the department considers that taxis and private hire vehicles should not be licensed to carry more people than the number of seatbelts available.’

In the UK, seatbelt regulations for taxis and PHVs are different to those applied to everyday drivers. Every passenger must have a seat with a seatbelt, and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all passengers comply with the seatbelt laws.

For children under three years old, if a child restraint is not available, they may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a taxi or PHV.

Children aged three years and older must use an adult seatbelt if no child seat is available.

While it may be legally permissible for an infant to travel on an adult’s lap in a taxi or PHV, the overarching guidance from transport authorities seems to stress that the number of passengers should not surpass the number of seatbelts available in the vehicle.


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