Booster seats to be banned for ‘smaller’ kids… new laws for 2017 you need to know about

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…

Make sure you get the right seat for your child as laws change

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.

Child seats for your child/children

Child’s weight Group Seats
0kg to 9kg 0 Lie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness
0kg to 13kg 0+ Rear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using a harness
9kg to 18kg 1 Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield
15kg to 36kg 2 and 3 Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

How the seat groups relate to kids…

Group 0+
Birth to approximately 15mths (13kg)
Style: Rearward-facing with three- or five-point harness.

Group 0+/1
Birth to approx 4yrs (18kg)
Style: Rearward and forward-facing with five-point harness or impact shield from 9 months. Many of these have a swivel function.

Group 1
9mths to approx 4yrs (9kg-18kg)
Style: Can be forward-facing and also rear-facing with five-point harness or impact shield.

Group 1/2/3
9mths to approx 11yrs (9kg-36kg)
Style: Forward-facing with five-point harness or impact shield, which then converts to a group 2/3 seat using the adult seat belt restraint.

Group 2/3
4yrs to approx 11yrs (15kg- 36kg)
Style: Forward-facing high-backed (or backless booster seat which are being phased out) with adult seat belt restraint.

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.

Look out for more ‘new laws for 2017’ coming soon.

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