Tough new laws for use of child seats

17 July 2006

Parents and drivers who fail to properly protect the safety of children travelling in a car will soon be breaking the law.

Until now, motorists have not been legally obliged to use child seats for children over the age of three-years-old.

When the new laws are introduced on September 18, they will have to use appropriate seats and booster cushions for children under the age of 12-years-old or less than 135cm in height (4ft 5in).

The driver of a car also becomes responsible for ensuring that a seatbelt is used where children are over 135cm in height and under 14-years-old. After this age, the responsibility becomes that of the passenger.

Hopefully, motorists and parents already know that using a rearward-facing seat in front of an active airbag is potentially lethal, but from September it will also become illegal.

On-the-spot fixed penalty notices of £30 can be handed out if the new regulations are not followed, rising to a maximum of £500 if the case goes to court.

Which 'stage' or 'group' of seat do I need?
Children grow at different rates, but broadly speaking you'll be looking for a stage-one or group 0/0+ seat for newborns and babies up to nine/15 months (up to 22/20lbs) and a stage-two or group-one seat between nine months and four years (or 20-40lbs).

A stage-three or group-two booster seat is used between, roughly, four and six-years-old (or 33-55lbs) and a stage-four or group-three booster cushion up to 12-years-old/135cm in height (about 79lbs).

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