Tough new laws for use of child seats

17 July 2006

  • New laws on child seats in September
  • If children not protected, driver is breaking law
  • Penalties of up to £500 possible

From September, the correct child seats and booster seats must be used, or drivers face prosecution

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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