Child Car Seat Legislation
How does it affect you?
Child Restraints - New Law
New regulations governing the use of child car seats will come into force on 18 September 2006.
This is the biggest change relating to child restraints for some years. The changes update regulations dating from 1993 when many more cars on the road than now did not have rear seat belts. The old rules are generally to use child seats and boosters "if they are available". The vast majority of cars now have rear seat belts. Therefore parents can now benefit by always using child seats and boosters. Stephen Ladyman, Road Safety Minister said: "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".
What are the new regulations?
|Front seat||Rear seat||Who is responsible?|
|Driver||Seat belt must be worn if fitted.||Driver|
|Child under 3 years of age||Correct child restraint must be used.||Correct child restraint must be used if available.||Driver|
|Child 3-11 years and under 150cms in height||Correct child restraint must be used if available. If not an adult seat belt must be worn.||Correct child restraint must be used if available. If not an adult seat belt must be worn if available.||Driver|
|Child 12 or 13, or 1.5 metres (approx 5ft) or more in height||Seat belt must be worn if fitted.||Seat belt must be worn if fitted.||Driver|
(ie 14 years and over)
|Seat belt must be worn if fitted.||Seat belt must be worn if fitted.||Passenger|
|From 18 September 2006 in cars, vans and goods vehicles|
|Front seat||Rear seat||Who is responsible?|
|Driver||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Driver|
|Child up to 3 years*||Correct child restraint MUST be used*.||Correct child restraint MUST be used*. If one is not available in a taxi, may travel unrestrained.||Driver|
|Child from 3rd birthday up to 135cms in height (approx 4'5") (or 12th birthday whichever they reach first)**||Correct child restraint MUST be used***.||Where seat belts fitted, correct child restraint MUST be used. Must use adult belt if the correct child restraint is not available:
- in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle; or
- for a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity; or
- two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of a third.
A child 3 and over may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not available.
|Child over 1.35 metres (approx 4ft 5ins in height) or 12 or 13 years||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Driver|
|Adult passengers (ie 14 years and over)||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Passenger|
In addition, the revised regulations also say that rear-facing baby seats MUST NOT be used in a seat protected by a frontal air-bag unless the air-bag has been deactivated manually or automatically.
* Children under 3 years MUST use the child restraint appropriate for their weight in all cars, vans and other goods vehicles, with the single exception for the rear of taxis. They cannot travel otherwise. This means for example that they may not travel in cars, vans or goods vehicles which do not have seat belts installed.
** Examples. A 7 year old who is 140 cms tall is over the height for a child restraint and may use an adult seat belt. A 12 year old who is 130 cms tall is over the age threshold and therefore may use an adult belt.
*** If no seat belts are fitted in the front, then children under 135 cms in height (who are also under 12 years of age) cannot travel in the front.
What do you mean by "child restraints"?
"Child restraints" is the collective term in the seat belt wearing legislation for baby seats, child seats, booster seats and booster cushions. Modern child restraints are designed for specific weight ranges of child. They have to meet UN ECE Regulation 44.03 (or subsequent) type approval standard and be marked with a label (showing an "E" and "44.03" or ".03") and the Group number, or weight range of child, for which it is designed. All child restraints that meet the Regulation 44.03 type approval standard are approved for use in forward-facing or rear-facing seats. Manufacturers use different names for their products so the names we have used below may not always apply and are a guide only. Manufacturers sometimes combine weight ranges in one product so that it can be used over a longer time as a child grows. It is the weight of the child that decides the restraint that must be used.
Group 0 and Group 0+. These are baby seats - rear-facing and for children up to 10 kgs and up to 13 kgs respectively (approx age birth to 9-12 months)
Group I. Child seats - forward facing and for children 9 kgs to 18 kgs (approx 9 months to 4 years)
Group II. Booster seats - for children from 15 kgs to 25 kgs (approx 4 to 6 years), or 15kgs up to 36 kgs)
Group III. Booster cushions - for children from 22 kgs and up to 36 kgs (from approx 6 years). The best type of child restraint for early childhood is the child safety seat. The integral harness secures the child and spreads the crash forces over a wide area. This seat will last them until either their weight exceeds 18kg or they grow too tall for the height of the adjustable harness. Booster seats are best used only when a child has outgrown a safety seat and are designed for weights from 15 kg to 25 kg. These raise the seating position of the child so that the adult seat belt lies properly across the chest and in particular low across the pelvis - if the adult belt is too high across the stomach, then in a crash, serious internal injury could result, or the child could submarine under the seat belt. The booster seat has a back and can provide some protection in a side impact. Booster cushions are designed for weights from 22 kg to 36 kg but manufacturers are now producing boosters with backs that cover both weight ranges. It is the drivers who are legally responsible for making sure that children under 14 years use seat belts or child restraints in cars and goods vehicles. Those 14 years and above are responsible for themselves.
Penalties for non-compliance?
A £30 fixed penalty notice. If a case goes to court, the maximum fine is £500. Penalty points are not applicable. In 2004, there were some 200,000 fixed penalties issued by the police and about 5000 cases went to court. For further information please click to the RoSPA website.