Parents need to pay attention now as new rules governing the types of child seats that can be used in cars are coming your way. Here’s the information you’ll need to stay legal…
What’s changing: Currently, all children must use a car seat until they are 12 years old or have reached 135cm tall – that’s just over 4ft 5” – whichever milestone comes first. However, that’s all about to change as booster seats will be banned for some children who currently use them.
When: This is expected to come into force from March 2017.
What is the new law: From March, the backless booster seats that many kids use will be banned for any children shorter than 125cm and weighing less than 22kg (3st 6.5lbs). Expect angry children who’ll be forced to spend longer in a high-backed chair – and groans from parents who’ll need to spend more on the more expensive seats.
However: The new rules will only apply to new purchases, so mums and dads won’t be fined for children using the backless booster seats if they were bought before March. It’s difficult to see how this will be enforced – will parents be expected to carry receipts? Time will tell.
Why is it changing: It’s all in the name of safety. There’s no doubt that ‘booster’ seats/cushions offer far less protection than their high-backed counterparts. Additional head protection and shoulder protection, for example.
Who decided this: The United Nations, which sets safety standards for child seats, said so and that means the EU must go along with it… and that means us – for now.
What seat must be used for your child: The type of seat required is based on age. Here are the various types for weight of child.
What about in taxis etc: There are exceptions to the rule. For example, children are allowed to travel in a taxi without a child car seat – but they must travel in the back and use an adult seat belt if three or over. Children under three do not need to use a seat belt.
The rules for vans are the same as for cars – so a child seat must be fitted if required.
What about unexpected journeys: If no suitable child seat is available, a child aged three or above can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following…
If the correct child car seat isn’t available, a child aged 3 or older can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:
Over a short distance
You can’t take children under 3 on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without the correct child car seat, unless both of the following apply:
It’s a licensed taxi or minicab
The child travels on a rear seat without a seat belt
What are the penalties for failing to abide by the law: The driver of the car can be fined up to £500 if a child of under 14 fails to use a seat belt or suitable seat. Anyone over 14 who fails to wear a seat belt must pay the fine themselves.