Today the laws revolving around child and baby car seats in the UK changed.
Going forward, parents will need to now ensure that any newly purchased car seats adhere to the new rules.
However, any seat bought before the 1st March 2017 is still ok to use if it has the appropriate EU approval labels.
The New Car Seat Law
- For babies weighing 0-10 kilograms, the Government guidelines advise the following should be used – “lie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness” (source: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/using-a-child-car-seat-or-booster-seat)
- Babies must be rear facing when in a car – until they are 15 months old. Once this age has been reached, they can sit facing either front or back.
- Should your child’s head reach above the top of their current seat, the purchase of a larger seat is required.
Did you know: height-based child car seats approved by the EU come with a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle, followed by the code ‘R129’.
- It is now a legal requirement that a child sits in a car seat until they are either 12 years old, or measure 4’5”.
- Once your child is older they should sit in a backless booster seat – only if they weigh 15kg or more.
- However, backless booster seats are banned for those under 4’1” and who weigh less than 22 kg. This only applies to new backless booster – for parents who already own a booster seat, there is no legal requirement to buy a new one.
Did you know: EU-approved weight-based child car seats have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’.
Fitting Child Seats
Child seats must only be fitted if the car’s seat belt includes a diagonal strap. Unless the follow criteria are met:
- The seat has been developed for a lap seat belt
- The seat is fitted using a car’s ISOFIX anchor system
Remember to deactivate front airbags if a rear facing baby seat is fitted to the passenger seat.
Child Seat Exceptions
According to the Gov.uk website, there are a limited number of exceptions to when a child can travel legally without the use of a car seat. These include:
- Taxis and minicabs – if the driver is unable to provide a correct car seat, children may travel without one if they sit on the rear seat, wearing a seat belt (if they’re older than 3) or without a seat belt if they’re under 3.
- On unforeseen emergency journeys – for a short distance and the child is over 3
- If three children are travelling and three cars seats will not fit – as long as the child is 3 or older.
Failure to follow these new rules can result in the driver of the vehicle receiving a fine of £500.
To find out more about the new laws, visit https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules