Car Seat Laws- Everything you need to know
The UK laws regarding car seats for children were updated in March 2017, yet not everyone is aware of this and many people continue to drive illegally with their children without on, or with the incorrect one. Selecting the right type of seat will give your child the best possible protection in the event of a crash. You’re also risking a £500 fine if you’re caught using the wrong type of seat or an incorrectly fitted seat.
New UK Car Seat Belt laws
Previously, children who weighed over 15kg could use backless booster seats, yet due to safety concerns, this has resulted in a change. From 1st March 2017, backless booster seats are only approved for children who weigh more than 22kg or are taller than 125cm. Furthermore, only seats approved by the EU are legal in the UK. This can be identified by a capital ‘E’ on the seat.
Car Seats suitable for a child
Parents or carers can choose a seat based upon either the child’s weight or their height. Height based seats are known as i-Size seats. Weight-based seats have a range of options which include; 0kg to 9kg or 13kg, 9kg to 18kg, and 15kg to 36kg.
Children must use a rear-facing seat until their 15 months old. Furthermore, you should never use a rear-facing seat in the front passenger seat, due to the activated airbag. Once your child is over 15 months, their necks are strong enough to move up to use a forward mounted seat.
- Children weighing more than 22kg or over 125 cm may use a backless booster seat
- Children over the age of 12 or height of above 135cm do not need to use a booster yet
- Yet any child under these two conditions must legally have a booster seat.
- Seats should be mounted with either an ISOFIX mounting or a diagonal seat belt strap
- Remember, you can be fined for fitting your child’s seat incorrectly as well
- For smaller children, a highback booster seat is recommended.
Why Change Car Seat Belt Laws?
Experts warned the government that backless booster seats simply were not secure enough, meaning they were unsafe for young children. Furthermore, in the event of a side on collision, a standard seat belt offers little protection whereas a booster seat is guided across the body for maximum protection. Moreover, booster cushions don’t offer any head or side protection. This is incredibly important for young children whos’ brains are still developing and are far more susceptible to trauma than adults.
Can a Child Travel without a Booster Seat?
UK law dictates that once a child is over the age of 12, or over 135cm tall, they no longer need to travel by a booster seat. Yet there are exceptions to this. A child can legally travel in a taxi or mini-cab without a car seat, however, they must wear a seat belt. This is in the case of if the driver does not provide the correct seat. They must travel in the rear of the vehicle and children under the age of 3 do not have to wear a seatbelt. Yet those over 3, a seat belt is compulsory. Children may also travel on a bus or coach without a car seat, but they must sit in the rear seats of a mini-bus. A child over the age of three may also travel in a regular car and use an adult seat belt if making an unexpected but necessary journey.
Buying a Child Car Seat
The easiest way to ensure your child’s protection is to buy a new “i-Size” seat based upon your child’s height. This is because they all come ISOFIX fitting points. Therefore you can fit the car seat to your car safely without relying on seat-belts. ISOFIX fitting points are increasingly fitted to new cars as standard.
Unfortunately, with so many online websites and stores to buy from, the whole process can be incredibly confusing. It may be based to go to a physical store such as Halfords or Mothercare and ask an attendant for advice. Avoid buying them from online stores such as eBay due to the possibility of receiving a damaged second-hand car seat.
In conclusion, it’s vital that your child has a car seat. It’s not just law and a fine that you’re risking, but your child’s safety. In the situation of a collision, children are far more fragile and suitable for injury. Therefore, a properly mounted car suit for your child’s weight or size will give them the best chances of survival.