If you’ve got a car seat for your baby, toddler or young child then it’s clear that you have the safety of your loved one as a priority and that should be congratulated. But did you know that UK laws on child car seats changed on March 1st? And if you don’t have a legal seat, you could face a fine of up to £500? We take a look at what the new child seat laws are and discuss what you need to know about them to ensure that your child is as safe as they can be and that you are fully compliant with the law.
What Are the New Rules?
Basically, we’re seeing the end of backless car booster seats. This is because experts now believe that small children who use backless booster seats are at more risk of a serious injury. This is because they don’t offer as much protection as a more substantial car seat, especially in accidents with a side impact. In short, the new rules are:
●Your child must use a child car seat until the age of 12 or at a height of 135 centimetres, whichever comes first.
●Children over the age of 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seatbelt.
●Children must sit in a seat with a diagonal seatbelt, unless the seat is designed specifically for lap belts, or has ISOFIX anchor points.
●Babies under 15 months old must sit in a rear-facing seat. Children above this age can face either to the front or the back although a weight based seat must be rear facing until the child reaches 13kg.
●If a booster seat is being used in the front, the front airbag must be disabled.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Yes, there are some exceptions to the new rules in certain circumstances and they are common sense measures that are useful in situations where a full car seat may not be available. The exceptions include:
●Emergency journeys that are of a short distance when the child is over three years of age.
●When the child is in a taxi, minicab, minibus, coach or van (but not when they are in the front).
●If you have three children sitting in the back of the car, the third car seat simply won’t fit and the child in question is at least three years old.
Will I Be Fined for Using My Existing Seat?
No, if you already have a car seat that does not fit the new laws such as a backless booster seat then you will not be fined. This is because the new legislation only applies to new seats bought after March 1st 2017. However, to give your child the best possible protection in the event of a crash or accident, parents are being urged to get rid of backless booster seats and replace them with car seats that fit the new legislation.
How Do I Know If a Car Seat Is Legal When Buying A New One?
All reputable retailers should now only sell car seats that are compliant with the new laws. It is easy to check simply by looking for an orange approved label which should display a capital E and the code R129 on it.
28th February 2017
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