In the UK, the law regarding a child’s safety when travelling in a vehicle, states that all children up to 135cm or 12years of age, need to be in a suitable car seat for their weight and age. Also, only EU approved car seats are allowed to be used and must carry the correct labelling (a capitol E inside a circle). If you are given or buy a second hand car seat, it is your responsibility to check that it complies with current safety standards. Here are some guidelines for the rules on child car seats.
– Age appropriate car seats
– For babies up to 13kg rear facing car seats
– Children weighing 9-18kg either forward or rear facing car seats
– Children weighing 15-25kg forward facing car seats
– Children weighing over 22kg booster seats
There is some confusion over whether a child’s car seat can be fitted in the front of the car or vehicle. On the government web site it states “You can use your child’s car seat in the front seat of a vehicle, if it fits. This includes 2-seater cars or convertibles with the top down” It must also be mentioned that a child’s car seats should never be used in side facing seats.
Warning – Front air bags must be deactivated if you intend to fit a rear facing baby seat.
If you happen to own a car that does not have any seat belts, then a child over the age of 3 is able to travel on the back seat without having to use their car seat. If the child is under the age of 3, then they will not be legally able to travel in the car either with or without their car seat. Under no circumstances can a child travel on someone else’s lap with the belt operating around the two of them. If the car you are travelling in only has a lap belt then the law requires you to use this belt for the seat. If the seat cannot be fitted using solely a lap belt, then you will be unable to travel with the child in the car.
Some modern makes of car have fitted integral child seats. These will be suitable for children only, and need to state the size/weight of the child for each individual seat; usually this will be for a child over 15kg in weight. You will also find a label on the integral seat with a capitol E inside a circle.
Just like having an up to date MOT on a car and suitable insurance cover, the rules on child car seats are there to protect you and your loved ones, should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident. An ill fitted or unsuitable car seat could be almost as dangerous as no car seat at all.