Passengers and Carrying Loads

To know and understand the responsibilities that you have to any passengers and how to safely carry any loads
To know how to transport passengers and loads safely and understand the rules around carrying passengers and loads
To know

  • Your responsibility when carrying passengers or loads in your car
  • The rules concerning seatbelts on passengers
  • Your responsibilities when carrying pets in your car
  • How to safely carry loads inside and outside of your car
On your driving test:
This will be covered on your theory test.

A view of cars is that they are made up of 3 boxes. One for the engine, one for the load and lastly one for the driver and passengers. We will be exploring passengers and load.

Carrying Passengers:

child in car seat

As the driver it is your responsibility to ensure that any passenger under 14 years old is wearing a seat belt or approved child restraint.

All passengers aged above 14 must wear a seatbelt if they are fitted to the car. Each passenger must have a seat and seatbelt each and you must not carry more passengers than your car has seats. Children must not sit on the laps of or share seatbelts with other passengers.

If you have children as passengers then child safety door locks must be used if they are fitted.

Rear facing child seats must not be used in a seat protected by an airbag. This would normally apply to the front passenger seat. If you open the passenger door there is normally a on/off to the side on the door.

Always ensure all doors are securely closed before starting your car. This can usually be checked by looking for:

  • Warning light on the dashboard
  • The interior light staying on after the engine is started
  • The sides of the car in the side mirrors not being smooth
Carrying Loads:

Heavily loaded vehicle

As the driver it is your responsibility to ensure your car is not overloaded.

Never exceed the weight limit for your car. This can be dangerous and your car will use more fuel.

Any load you are carrying:

  • Must be fastened securely
  • Must not obstruct your view
  • Must not stick out dangerously from your car

If you regularly carry loads consider purchasing a specially designed roof box. This will save on fuel costs and hold extra loads securely.

Cycle racks are available to carry bicycles on your car. These will hold bicycles securely. If a cycle rack is mounted to the rear of your car always ensure that the number plates and car lights are clearly visible.

Carrying Loads Inside The Car:

Any objects inside your car must be secured safely. It is preferable to put any packages in the boot of your car rather than in the main car.

If items need to be carried inside the car always make sure they will not move if you have to brake or turn suddenly.

Always ensure:

  • Any large or heavy object is strapped down with the seat belt
  • Any object inside the car is not obstructing your vision
  • Never place any item in the drivers footwell and ensure any items lose on the cars floor cannot roll around the vehicle
  • Any large weights are distributed evenly
  • Allow for a larger stopping distance if carrying lots of weight

When carrying pets or animals in your car always make sure they are secured safely.

Dog in car

Dogs should be strapped in with a special harness or travel behind a grille. This is to prevent them moving around the car and stop them hurting themselves or others in the car if you need to brake suddenly.

Other animals should be carried in cages or special carry boxes and secure with the seatbelt.

Never have any unsecured animals inside a moving car.

Towing Trailers:

Car and trailer

Once you have passed your driving test, you can tow a small trailer (under 750kg maximum) without having to take an additional test.

The law on this is currently changing and you need to check particularly if you are getting some kind of reward for your services.

Always make sure any trailer is loaded correctly and does not exceed the maximum weight allowed.

If a trailer begins to swerve as you are towing it ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently. This can often be avoided by distributing weight evenly before setting off.

Always make sure any passengers are wearing their seatbelts before you begin any journey. (Remember that as the driver you are legally responsible for any passengers under the age of 14.)

Make sure any items in your car are secure and loaded evenly. If possible carry items securely in the boot or consider a roof box.

Make sure any pets are securely strapped in or are in appropriate carriers or behind a grill.

Never overload your car with items or passengers.

You should know how to:

  • Carry passengers and the seat belt rules
  • Carry loads inside and outside of your car
  • Deal with trailers
Further Reading:
The Highway Code Rule(s): 99-102

Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 2


What’s in the driving syllabus?

Click on a topic below to get started.
Please note this syllabus should be used with a professional driving instructor.


Cockpit Drill

Safety Checks

Controls and Instruments
Moving Away and Stopping
Safe Position
Mirrors Vision and Use
Anticipation and Planning
Use of Speed
Other Traffic
Dual Carriageway
Motorway Driving
Country Roads
Pedestrian Crossings
Turning the Vehicle Around
Emergency Stop
Independent Drive
Fuel-Efficient Driving
Passengers and Loads