Traffic law, 29.05.2019

How many youngsters can I transport in my car?

I frequently drive my son and some of his friends home from football practice.Can I take five teenagers with me for this short distance? My estate car has enough space, even if it is officially only a five-seater. What do I risk if the police stop me?

The temptation is understandably great to do your son's colleagues a favour and take them with you in the car. But beware: the number of persons who may be carried in a vehicle is fixed by Article 30 of the Road Traffic Law (SVG). Persons may only travel in the designated seats.

Specifically, the traffic regulation states not only that the people have to sit in the designated places, but also that a vehicle may only transport as many persons as there are approved seats according to the vehicle registration documents.

This is a condition that may not be exceeded, in other words, regardless of age or the space actually needed for these persons.

Fines: The driver is responsible for complying with all the regulations for the specific journey, and that the vehicle is safe to operate. Failure to comply with the valid regulations can result in an on-the-spot fine. If you are stopped in a traffic check, you currently risk a penalty of 60 francs.
If the transported individuals cannot wear seatbelts due to the number of passengers, there would also be an additional penalty of 60 francs. You should also note the additional safety instructions for children up to 12 years of age.

The consequences of injuries to unbelted persons or not properly secured children in the case of an accident, for which you are responsible as a driver, are much more serious. The consequences can be devastating: the liability insurers have specified in the General Conditions of Insurance (GCI) that there is no insurance cover for legally or officially prohibited trips.
The liability is not explicitly insured "for journeys in which drivers transport persons contrary to the legal provisions".

Any persons suffering such injuries can make claims against the car insurer, and these will also paid, but the holder of the vehicle must expect a recourse (recovery of claims), regardless of who was driving the car at the time of the accident. There vis also the risk of criminal proceedings against the driver in case of negligent injury or even death if these are the result of passengers not wearing seat belts. Finally, the serious psychological consequences of a (preventable) serious accident involving injured children or adolescents should not be underestimated.

Summarising: only as many people may be carried in a vehicle as are permitted in the vehicle ID, even if more people would theoretically have space. Drivers / vehicle owners otherwise take considerable risks because, in addition to recourse claims by the liability insurer, criminal proceedings are also threatened.

Dr. iur. Beat Frischkopf, Sursee Lawyer, www.frischkopf.ch