Parents with children are warned to take note of new safety laws regarding car seats. The laws came into force on 18 September.
The rules have been updated because most cars are now fitted with rear seat belts. Children using an ordinary seat belt are at risk of neck injuries or slipping out of the restraint in an accident.
Where the child is under 3 years old, he or she must use the correct child restraint when travelling in the front or the back of a car. The only exception is that if one is not available in a taxi, the child may travel unrestrained in the rear.
Where the child is between 3 and 12 years of age, or is up to 1.35m (4 ft 5 inches) in height, the child must use an appropriate child restraint where seat belts are fitted, although there are exemptions. An adult seat belt must be used, if the correct child restraint is not available, in three cases. These are
- in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle ;
- for a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity; and
- where two occupied child restraints prevent the fitting of a third.
A child restraint is a baby seat, child seat, booster seat or booster cushion. Which is appropriate depends on the weight of the child.
It is unlawful to use a rear-facing child seat in a seat which is protected by an active front airbag.
Where the child is taller than 1.35m (4 ft 5 inches), or is 12 or 13 years old, adult seat belts must be worn where available.
Seat belts must also be worn, if provided, on buses, mini-buses and coaches.
The driver of the vehicle is responsible for any non-compliance. The penalty for failing to comply is a £30 fixed penalty notice. If a case goes to court, the maximum fine is £500.
For more details on the new laws, see