Sunday, May 28, 2023


How can I add shoulder harness seat belts to my Class C’s dinette seat?

Hi, Dave,
How can I add shoulder seat belts for my passengers sitting in the booth dinette that is on a slide in my Class C RV? It seems like a real safety issue, and I can’t understand the reasoning of only a lap belt. Please help! Thanks, Dave, for all your useful information. —Andrew, 2023 Dynamax Isata 5

Hi, Andrew,
The challenge for RV manufacturers when it comes to putting in any type of seat belt is being able to find a solid frame to anchor the harness, and not putting themselves in a liable situation in the case of an accident. I know that sounds strange; however, when it comes to motorhomes, there are different regulations than the automobile and truck industry.

Your Dynamax Isata is a Class C built on a Ram (Dodge) 5500 cutaway chassis with a Cummins 6.7 diesel engine. That means the entire cab with drive train, dash instrumentation and frame rails come from Dodge, and the rest of the motorhome is built by Forest River/Dynamax.

This chassis comes with three-point seat belts

Typically the cutaway chassis comes with a stock driver and passenger seat. Most RV manufacturers remove those and add their own with “leather-like” material and 6-way electric functions. Since this chassis is used for applications other than the RV industry, it comes with the three-point seat belts, which has the shoulder strap, since the other applications would need to be DOT certified. The attachment for the shoulder portion of these seat belts must be installed to a permanent framework, which is called the ”B” pillar in a motorized unit.

The 2023 Isata is available in three floorplans. The 30 FW has a bed slide and a booth/dinette and small sofa slide, both on the driver side. The 28 SS just has a booth/dinette slide on the driver side, and the 34 DS has just the booth/dinette and small sofa slide on the dinette side. All three have a booth dinette with lap seatbelts.

Framework needed to install shoulder strap

In a booth dinette or even a sofa, the anchor of the seat belt spring-loaded mechanism and attaching harness is bolted to the floor. To install a shoulder strap, there would need to be some type of framework in the sidewall of the slideout since the seats do not have a high back and are backed against the wall. Typically the sides only have a small aluminum perimeter frame. If it were attached there and came out, the RV manufacturer would be liable. I do not know of any interior furniture that has anything other than lap belts such as the sofa, dinette, or lounge chairs.

If you wanted to add your own, you would need to design some type of permanent brace or backing that the belt could be anchored to. Maybe some type of sandwiched metal plate inside and out. However, there typically is either a mirror, TV, or even a window in the side wall. And notice the model with the dinette/sofa doesn’t have any wall between the two.



Seat belt laws in the 50 states, from the Governors Highway Safety Association

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Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. He has been in the RV Industry since 1983 and conducts over 15 seminars at RV shows throughout the country.


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1 month ago

By the letter of the law, in MOST, I REPEAT MOST, Provinces and States, the highway traffic act states all occupants of their vehicle MUST WEAR SEATbelts……it does not say 3 point safety belts. (Notice the slogan “Click it or ticket”?) 7 passenger SUV or minivan….their will be 7 factory installed safety belts. 8 passenger….8 factory installed safety belts. The highway traffic act says you must WEAR these belts. And, all seats are facing forward.
Side facing seats, bench, dinette, whatever……you have to wear seatbelts. NOWHERE does it state they’ll be survivable!!!!


1 month ago
Reply to  Ken

That is just stupid and down right criminal of the DOT to not regulate the RV industry to provide for passenger safety restraints. I don’t want my daughter to suffer a back injury from a lap belt only seat belt. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. What can we do?

1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

I really sense your frustration Andrew, however, imagine what the layout of a motorhome would HAVE to look like, in order to install, position and equip forward facing seats.
And…..if as some motorhomes (Class C units at least) advertise “sleeps 6-8”, then you’d need the equal number of seats to meet the DOT safety concerns for your daughter.
Personally, I’ve NEVER seen actual video tests of “crash test dummies” subjected to sideways or rearward seating. Just watching what a human body may be subjected to when facing forward is scary in itself. 😱

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