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Car Seat Regulations

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 2 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Children Regulations 18th September Seat

On Monday 18th September 2006, new regulations came into force concerning the enforced use of child car seats in the UK. These changes were brought in to update the previous regulations which dated back to 1993 - a time that many cars rolled off the production line minus rear-seat belts. The rules in force until now indicated that child seats and booster seats should be used 'where available'. As most cars manufactured today do have seat belts fitted in the rear, parents can now increase their children's safety by using boosters and child seats - and of course, they'll stay on the right side of the law.

So What are the New Rules?

The regulations say that all children travelling in a car must be subject to the appropriate safety restraint.

Why is this Happening?

The new rules have been brought in to protect children in the UK - according to figures released by the Department of Transport for the year 2005, 11,000 children under the age of 11 were killed or injured in car accidents. It is believed that the proper use of child car restraints could have prevented a great number of these deaths and injuries.

Stephen Ladyman, Road Safety Minister explains:"Most people make sure that children use some kind of restraint when travelling on the road, but it is vitally important to use the right one; and not to use an adult belt before the child is big enough.

"Small children need the protection that baby seats and child seats are designed to provide. Seat belts are designed for adults. Children who have grown out of child seats still need to use booster seats and booster cushions.

"We estimate that these changes could prevent over 2000 child deaths or injuries each year."

So What is an 'Appropriate' Safety Restraint?

An appropriate child safety restraint:
  • conforms to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44-03
  • is suitable for the child's weight and size
  • is correctly fitted according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Under the new regulations any children that are older than three and younger than twelve, but shorter than 4'5" or 135cm must use a child seat or a booster cushion to travel in a car.

For passengers over 5' (150cms) who possess an adult bone structure, the best option is an adult seat belt - but smaller children must use car seats and boosters to be safe - they are there to put the child in the right position to benefit from the full protection provided by the adult seat belt.

The new rules also concern the transportation of babies - rear facing baby seats must not be used in front passenger seats when airbags are fitted, unless the airbags have been deactivated.

How do I Know Which Safety Restraint to Use?

Making sure that each child has the correct safety restraint for them is extremely important so that we can bring down the numbers of children that are injured or killed on the road due to safety restraints letting them down or being inappropriate for the child in question. A child's weight and height must be factored into which type of safety measure is used, and this will change as a child develops.

A good guide to figure out what kind of safety restraint you should be using is:

  • 0-12 months- (up to 13kg) - Baby Seat
  • 1-4 years (9-18kg) - Child Seat
  • 4-12 years - (15-36kg) - Booster Seat
  • 4-12 years or 135cm tall - (15-36kg) - Booster Cushion
  • Children of 12 years old or over, or those taller than 135cm tall (whichever comes first) - must use an adult seat Remember that it is the driver who is liable for prosecution if a child under the age of 14 does not wear a seat belt or use an appropriate safety restraint while being transported in a vehicle. Make sure you buy your child's car seat from a reputable supplier, and keep the fitting instructions somewhere safe.

Are There any Exemptions?

There are some exceptions that allow children 3 years - 135cms tall to travel in the rear of a car using an adult seat belt. These are:
  • In a licensed taxi/private hire car if the right child restraint is not available
  • For genuine emergency situations over a short distance if the right child restraint is not available
  • Where two children already sitting in seats in the rear prevent a third seat fitting in.
Children under 3 years may also travel in the rear of a taxi unrestrained if no child restraint is available.

Don't Get Caught Out

Every week around a quarter of families with children under 15 rely on grandparents to look after their children, including picking them up from school. These new laws apply to such trips just as much as to regular car journeys with mum and dad so make sure that anyone transporting your children is aware of them.

What Happens if I Don't do it?

Anyone caught not using the correct form of restraint will be liable to an on the spot fixed penalty £30 fine, if the driver is a persistent offender, or the case is taken to court this may rise to £500.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi My inlaw insist that they put a fleece blanket to cover the whole of the actual seat of the car (they beleive the baby car seat will mark there leather seats) then they put the baby seat on top of the blanket. I would like to know if this is safe to do as I do not believe it is. Please help! Many thanks in advance Kind regards Kimmy x
Kimmy - 2-Aug-13 @ 8:56 AM
I bought a new car and it doesn't have an airbag deactivation switch as standard (needs to be installed as an expensive option).Is this legal in the UK?
JH - 2-May-12 @ 8:23 PM
this is a very good site full of useful information set out in a very easily understood format .A lot of the information was as i thought but with safety it,s good to be able to check it out and keep it updated.Thankyou
safety 1st - 25-Jul-11 @ 7:09 PM
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