Churchill magazine

Do you know about child car seat safety?

Updated on: 18 January 2021

A baby is safely placed in a rear-facing car seat.

We all want our children to be safe, but did you know that their safety in cars is a legal requirement? The law states that children travelling in cars must use a child car seat until they’re 135 cm tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first. Then they must use a normal adult seat belt.

It’s always the driver’s legal responsibility to make sure child passengers under 14 are travelling within the law, even if the driver isn’t the parent.

Buying a child car seat

The child car seat you choose will be decided by a combination of legal requirements, the car you’re fitting it into, and personal preference. If you’re going to be moving the child car seat between cars, you should also make sure it’s suitable for both vehicles.

RoSPA’s Child Car Seats website has lots of useful information, including a checklist to help you buy the most suitable child car seat for your specific needs.

Fitting a child car seat

The driver is responsible for making sure the car seat is both suitable for the child and correctly fitted. Specific fitting instructions will be included with the car seat. If you’re unsure, many stores offer child car seat fitting services which will show you how to correctly fit the seat.

Many child car seat manufacturers also post detailed video instructions on their website or YouTube, which you may find easier to follow than diagrams.

There are also some general rules to follow when fitting a child car seat:

  • Deactivate any front airbags if fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat

  • Don’t fit a child car seat in side-facing seats

When can a child travel without a car seat?

There are some occasions when it’s not a legal requirement for a child to travel in a suitable child car seat, including when a vehicle doesn’t have seatbelts.

For specific rules and information on travelling in taxis, coaches and in cases of an emergency, please read the government guidelines.

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