New Legislation Relating to Car Seats

Confused about car seats?  No wonder, as new legislation is pending and obviously when buying a car seat for your baby or child it’s crucial that you know the current car seat legislation. There are lots of different rules and exceptions to these rules depending on how old your child is which does make it complicated.

The current law which changed in 2006 states:

All children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat appropriate to their weight or height, until they are either

  • 135cm tall or
  • 12 years of age.

After that they can use an adult seat belt.

The same rules apply to children with disabilities, unless a doctor confirms they’re exempt on medical grounds.

Recently there have been reports in the media about backless car seat laws changing and booster cushions being banned. Backless boosters are the simplest and cheapest car seats. They’re basically bottom seats that raise the height of your child. This helps the seat belt give better protection in the event of a crash, but there’s no side or head protection. The new rules are being introduced because many experts think backless booster seats are unsuitable for young children. They argue that small children aren’t held as securely in the seat, that the adult seat belt isn’t guided across their body in the best way, and that backless booster seats offer no protection for a child if a car is involved in a side-impact crash.

However booster seats will not be banned under any new legislation. In fact the reason the law makers say they won’t ban booster cushions is because some parents need them, particularly if they have small cars and they believe that it is better for parents to have a backless booster than no child seat at all.

What is going to happen is a change in the height and age when children can use backless booster seats. At the moment booster cushions fall under the Group2/3 car seat category, meaning they can be used by children as young as 3 or weighing only 15kg. The new extension recommends children use backless booster cushions only once a child is 125cm in height or taller and weighing more than 22kg which is roughly around 7 years old.  The new rules will bring us in line with European countries such as Germany and France.

From January 2017 manufacturers will no longer make booster cushions for smaller children, only the backless boosters for children over 125cm tall.  Any changes in the law will apply only to new products, not child restraint systems that are already in use and meet existing safety standards but undoubtedly the change in law will make parents re-think the safety of their family vehicle.

The ruling for new products will not be mandatory until implemented into European legislation and is not in force as yet but is expected to be introduced in March of this year. Adults found in breach of the revised legislation will face fines of up to £500.

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