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New UK Baby / Child Seat Law Sep 2006

How This Law Change Will Make Your Children Safer

The law relating to how children are restrained in cars in the UK has changed. Many parents are understandably confused about what this means for them and their children, and that this is just a money-making exercise for the baby-seat manufacturers and retailers.

This simply isn't true. The new law puts into place measures that many thought were already on the statute books, and merely makes it the drivers responsibility to ensure children are in an appropriate child seat / booster seat.

The law is the absolute minimum, many safety experts hoped the government would go further by insisting on a purely height driven code, because it is the height of a child that is critical in whether an adult seat-belt will protect them in a car accident.

This is a summary of the new child seat law:

Children under 3 years of age: Whether sitting in the front or rear seats of a vehicle an appropriate child restraint must be used (ie a baby-seat of the correct weight capacity.) So kids under 3 must always be in a child safety seat, full-stop. Rearward facing seats must not be used in the front seats if air-bags are fitted, even if they have an off switch or have been disabled. Airbags are explosive devices and an accident can set one off even if it has been disabled.

Children aged between 3 and 11 years (under 12) and under 135cm or 4' 5" in height: In the front seat the correct child restraint must be used. In the rear seat the correct child restraint must be used if seat-belts are fitted. (e.g. a child seat or booster seat). It is also now illegal for a child under 12 and under 135cm to travel in the front seat of a car without the appropriate child seat under any circumstances. Exceptions: Taxis without child restraints. Where the fitting of 2 child seats prevents the fitting of a third. A short or occasional trip where the correct child restraint is not available.

Children over 135cm or 4' 5" in height: Adult seatbelts must be worn in the front or rear seats of a car, if fitted.

So you see, all the law is doing is putting the minimum safety standard into place. You only have to put your child over 3 on a booster seat to comply with the law, but this is not the safest option and not recommended by safety organizations or baby-seat manufacturers at all. Keep them in one of the proper child seats, then a high-backed booster, right until they are tall enough to use an adult seat belt.

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