Everything you need to know about child seats
All children travelling in cars must use the correct child restraint until they are either 135 cm in height (4 foot 4 inches for those of you talking Imperial!) or the age of 12 - whichever they reach first. After this, they can use an adult seat belt. This law was implemented by the Department of Transport and saves the lives of more than 2000 children per year!
Children up to 3 years old
This group must use the correct child restraint in the front seat, which is a lie-seat. It is illegal to carry a child in a rear-facing child seat in the front which is protected by an active front airbag, so be sure to turn it off (usually can be done using a coin in a switch exposed by opening the passenger door) but don't forget to turn it back on again after. In the rear seat, the child must use the correct child restraint for their age and height - this detail is displayed on the packaging of most child seats.
Child seats and Children aged 3 and above
In the rear seat, the child must use the correct restraint, where seat belts are fitted. There are certain exceptions where they can use an adult belt if they are:
- in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle,
- travelling on a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity,
- in a car where there are two occupied child restraints in the rear, preventing the fitment of a third.
- in rear seat of a vehicle where seat belts are not available.
Children over 1.35 metres in height, or 12/13 years old
Children in this group must use the adult seat belt in the front & rear seat, if available. All passengers Over 14 years old travelling in the front or rear seat, must wear an adult seat belt if available.
Child Seat Standards
Although new child restraints must conform to R44.03 or later version of the standard, people who have child restraints that conform to a British Standard or to an earlier version of R44, may continue to use them. It will be marked with an 'E' mark and a '03' number. Check that it meets the current safety standards and make sure that it is appropriate for your child's weight and height.
Booster seats may be cheaper, however, they don't provide a high level of protection during accidents.
How to fit one
The best way to reduce the risk of your child becoming injured in an accident is to always use a properly fitted, purpose made child car seat. If the retailer offers a fitting service, then use it.
For more information, click here for an article on the topic
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