In Summary

Hello Paul, as a concerned motorist and parent I would like to know whether it is considered safe for children and other passengers to stand through the sunroof of a moving vehicle? Is there any law against this common practice? Eva

Hello Paul, as a concerned motorist and parent I would like to know whether it is considered safe for children and other passengers to stand through the sunroof of a moving vehicle? Is there any law against this common practice? Eva

Hello Eva, it is considered very dangerous for passengers (children or adults) to stand through the sunroof of a moving vehicle. There is a growing trend of young children standing through the sunroof of a car while shouting and waving at other road users. While driving, children should be safely seated with their seatbelts safely fastened.

This is because seatbelts reduce the likelihood or severity of injury during sudden stopping or impact due to collision. Injury happens when passengers are tossed out of moving vehicles or hit hard against vehicle interior panels, windscreens, dashboards or against other passengers.

Due to dynamic or motion forces, passengers standing through a sunroof can be thrown out of the vehicle like projectiles or sustain serious neck and back injuries when the driver suddenly brakes while reacting to an emergency. The passengers standing through a sunroof may not only endanger themselves but also pause risk to other road users as well as distract them.

In Uganda, we have a 2004 Traffic and road safety act number 32 which requires all passengers in a moving vehicle, on a public highway, to be restrained to their seats using seatbelts. This law also stipulates fines and a prison term of three or one month for offending drivers and passengers.

The sunroof of a car is designed to allow passengers to let in sunlight or fresh air. Specially converted official parade or security vehicles have accessible purpose built roof hatch systems designed with special platforms, grab rails and edge padding all intended to secure the passenger who stands through them.

The drivers of these unique vehicles undergo specialised training on how to drive with their principals or technical personnel standing through the hatch. These special vehicles and their users are exempt from the Uganda traffic act on use of safety belts while performing their duties. Other ordinary passenger vehicles are not designed to safely transport passengers who are not harnessed to their seats with seatbelts.