Car seat laws

* Everything you need to know about car seats * Car seat groups explained * Car seats and the law...

05 September 2012
Car seat laws

The law aims to protect children travelling in cars, and it is the driver's legal responsibility to ensure these car seat regulations are followed and that any child under the age of 14 are in a correct car seat. If they are not, the driver can be issued with an on-the-spot penalty of 30 and fines of up to 500.

However, from the age of 14 it is the passenger's responsibility to wear their seatbelt, and they will have to pay the fine if they are found to be travelling without it. This is definitely worth pointing out to teenagers.

The law on children in cars says the following:

Up to 12 years old or 135cm (4ft 5ins) tall, whichever comes sooner must
• travel in the correct type of car seat for their weight.
• if the child is travelling in a rear-facing baby seat positioned on the car's front passenger's seat, the airbag must be deactivated.

Children over the age of 12 or over 135cm tall
• must use an adult seatbelt, if fitted, whether sitting in the front or the rear.

In the following circumstances only, children may legally travel unrestrained in the rear:

Baby to infant three years old
•In a licensed taxi or licensed hire car

Children aged three-12/135cm tall
• if rear seatbelts are not fitted
• in a licensed taxi or licensed hire car
• if the child is travelling a short distance due to unexpected necessity
• if there are two occupied child restraints in the rear which prevent the fitment of a third

All these exceptions were introduced to aid practicality, but of course you should always put your child's safety first.

Next step: Car seats - the basics >>