Child seat safety

Put simply the law states that children travelling in cars must use a child restraint until they are either 135 cm tall or they turn 12 years old, whichever comes first. Then they must use a normal adult seat belt. Children up to three years old must use the correct child restraint in the front seat: rear-facing baby car carriers are not allowed in a front seat if the car has front airbags, as there is a danger that the child might suffocate. It is always the driver’s legal responsibility to ensure child passengers are travelling within the law, even if the children are not your own. To sum up:

  • Children aged three and over up to the age of 12 (or 135cm in height) must also use a child restraint – they can use an adult belt if they are in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle; you are making a short trip in an emergency; or if the two child restraints in the rear of the vehicle are occupied and it is not possible to fit a third.
  • Children over 135cm in height, or who are 12 or 13 years old must use the adult seat belt in the front seat. In the rear seat the adult seat belt must be worn if available.
  • Passengers over 14 years old travelling in the front or rear seat, must wear an adult seat belt if available and it is their legal obligation to comply, not the driver’s.

More information can be found on RoSPA’s (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) website www.childcarseats.org.uk (opens in a new window).

Child seat standards

The best way to reduce the risk of a child becoming injured in an accident is to always use a properly-fitted, purpose-made child car seat. Check that it meets the current safety standards and make sure that it is appropriate for your child’s weight and height. It will be marked with an ‘E’ mark and an ‘03’ number. Child restraints (baby seats, child seats, booster seats and booster cushions) sold in the UK must conform to the United Nations ECE Regulation R44.03 or a later version of the standard. ISOFIX, which stands for International Standards Organisation FIX, is a new standard for installing child seats into cars, which is being adopted by vehicle manufacturers and is intended to make fitting child seats quick and simple.

Questions to ask

  • Does it fit the car?
  • Does the seat manufacturer say that it is appropriate for the car?
  • Follow the instructions and fit it, or get it fitted, properly.
  • It is important to remember that child seats are not magic devices, what makes the child seat safe is the adult who fits it.

For more information:

Visit the Britax (opens in a new window) website for details of Britax products, fitting instructions and which seats fit which models.

And to purchase children’s car seats online along with lots of helpful information and product details, visit www.incarsafetycentre.co.uk (opens in a new window).

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