Child Car Seats & the Law

Disclaimer: Although this information was believed to be correct at the time of publishing (October 2011), it may no longer be accurate. We can take no responsibility for any errors or omissions.

In 2006, the law surrounding the use of child car seats was changed. The aim of the change was to save children’s’ lives – as many as 2,000 per year, according to government estimates at the time.

The problem was that children had to rely on adult seat belts to keep them safe. Adult seat belts don’t fit children’s bodies – meaning that in a collision, the seat belts can do as much harm as good.

The solution was a more comprehensive set of child restraint requirements than before. Here’s an overview of what is required:

 

Age/Height of Child What is required by law? Who is responsible?
Children under 3 years old FRONT: Must be seated in a suitable, approved child seat.

REAR: If in a taxi/private hire vehicle and no child restraint is available, child may travel without restraint.

Driver
Children over 3 but under 12 or under 135cm in height (whichever occurs first) FRONT: Must be seated in a suitable, approved child seat.

REAR: Where seat belts are fitted, correct child restraint should be used.

In certain situations, an adult seat belt may be used when a child restraint is unavailable:

  • Taxi/private hire vehicles
  • For a short distance in case of unexpected necessity
  • Two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of third on rear seat.

If no adult seat belts are fitted, child may travel without restraint.

Driver
Children aged 12-13 and over 135cm in height FRONT: Must use an adult seat belt.

REAR: Must use an adult seat belt, where fitted.

Driver
Children age 14 and up FRONT:Must use an adult seat belt.

REAR: Must use an adult seat belt, where fitted.

Passenger (i.e. the child)

 

NOTE: Exemptions from these rules are very tightly restricted and are as listed above only. For example, none of the following situations do not exempt you from using suitable child restraints as described above:

  • Travelling in a hire car (car seats can usually be hired from car hire companies)
  • Visitors from another country must still obey UK rules
  • Travelling in another person’s car
  • Only travelling a short distance – no exemption unless it can be shown to be unexpectedly necessary

This is not an exhaustive list – if your situation isn’t listed in the table above then you need to have suitable child restraints fitted.

Click on one of the links below to learn more:

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.