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What are the laws on Child Car Seats?

We all want to keep our children safe when it comes to car travel but are you aware of the laws in the UK about child car seat safety? If not, then you can find a brief outline below;

Child/Booster Seats:

When it comes to using a child car seat, these must be used until the child is either 12 years old or reach 135cm tall, whichever comes first. Once they reach either 12 or alternatively 135cm the child must wear a seat belt. It is the drivers choice as to whether they want to use a child seat based on either height or weight. We outline a brief guide below;

Height-based Seats: Also known as ‘i-Size’ seats.

If the child is under 15 months old, the child seat must be rear-facing. Once the child reaches 15 months old they can then be placed into a forward-facing car seat.

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the seat is suitable for the height of the child.

It should be noted that only EU-approved height-based child seats can be used in the UK, these can be identified by a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’ on the label.

Weight-based Seats:

Again, only EU-approved weight-based car seats can be used in the UK, these are identified by looking for a ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’ on the label.

Below, we identify the seat to be used depending on a child’s weight;

0-10kg (group 0)

Seat:

Lie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier

Rear-facing baby carrier

Rear-facing baby seat using a harness

0-13kg (group 0+)

Seat:

Rear-facing baby carrier

Rear-facing baby seat using child harness

9-18kg (group 1)

Seat:

Rear or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield

15-25kg (group 2)

Seat:

Rear or forward-facing child car seat

High-backed booster seat or booster cushion using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

22-36kg (group 3)

Seat:

Rear or forward-facing child car seat

High-backed booster seat or booster cushion using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

Fitting a car seat in a vehicle

The child car seat must be fitted using ISOFIX anchor points or you must ensure that the car seat is specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt. Failing this, the child’s car seat must only be used in the car’s seat belt has a diagonal strap.

In addition to the above never fit a child car seat to side-facing seats and any front airbags should be deactivated before fitting any rear-facing baby seats in the front.

There are a few exceptions as to when a child over the age of 3 can travel without a car seat, these are as follows;

  • The child is in a taxi
  • The child is in a minibus, coach or van
  • The journey the child is travelling on is unexpected and a state of emergency
  • There is no room for another car seat

In most other cases, a child under the age of 3 years must always be in a car seat.

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