The law on child car seats changed more than two years ago, but many parents are still getting to grips with what these rules actually mean for their little ones.
The law raises a number of questions. What age do children need to be to move up a car seat size? What happens if a child is tall for their age? And how long does a child need to be in a rear-facing seat?
According to research by Confused.com, one in four parents is unsure about the rules regarding car seats for kids, while one eight doesn’t know what size seat they should be using.
In fact, according to the research, parents are left feeling so confused that one in seven admit to not using a car seat at all when they have their kids in the car.
It’s a risky business. Not only is a child not in a car seat more likely to be injured in the event of a collision, if caught by the police, the driver could face a fine of up to £500.
The root of the confusion is the R129 child car seat regulations (aka i-Size). Here’s a rundown of the key things you need to know about child car seats so you stay on the right side of the law.
What car seat should my child be using?
Babies need to be in a rear-facing car seat until they are 15 months old. If you are placing a baby in a rear-facing seat in the front of the car, you must ensure the airbags are deactivated.
Once your child is over 15 months old, they can move into a forward-facing seat. iSize seats come in different sizes and use your child’s height to determine the right seat for your child.
There are also weight-based seats available – these must by EU-approved with a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’. Find out more about child seat sizeshere.
How do I choose the right car seat?
It’s essential you get specialist advice when choosing a car seat for you child. A retail assistant should ask you a number of key questions about the child’s weight, height, age, what vehicle the seat will be used in, and whether the vehicle has ISOfix fittings.
For more guidance on buying a child car seat ,Good Egg Safety has a number of tips.
How do I fit a car seat?
Child car seats can be fitted into a car in two different ways:
1. Using the existing diagonal seat belt to secure the seat in place.
2. If there is one, using the car’s in-built ISOfix system to lock the seat into place.
You will need to check your car first to determine which type you’ll need.
Can my child travel without a car seat?
Once a child is aged three or over, they are allowed to travel in the back of a car only in certain circumstances:
- In a taxi or minicab
- In a coach
- In a van
- If the journey is unexpected (i.e. in an emergency)
- If there’s not enough room for another car seat
Any child aged below three years must always travel in a car seat which is positioned on the back seat. They must never travel using just an adult seatbelt.
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