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By law, all children traveling in cars must use the correct child restraint until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall. Once they reach this criteria they must use an adult restraint. There are a couple of exceptions, but by and large these rules should not be broken and it is the drivers responsibility to make sure they are not.
Children Up To Age 3
- Young children can travel in the front of the car
- They must use the correct child restraint in the front or back
- It is illegal to carry a child in a rear facing child seat in the front which is protected by an active airbag
- If a child is traveling in a taxi or licensed car and a seat is not available the child must travel in the back. This is the only exception for under threes and for practical reasons rather than for safety
Children aged 3 -12
Children aged 3 - 12 must wear the correct child restraint whether traveling in the front or rear of the car. There are 3 exceptions for this age group.
- In a licensed taxi or private hire car
- If the child is traveling a short distance for reasons of an emergency or unexpected necessity.
- If other fitted car seats make the fitting of a third one impossible, or if there are no restraints available for a third seat
Children traveling in minibuses, coaches or any other vehicle must wear a restraint or adult seat belt.
A properly fitted child restraint keeps the child in their seat, keeping them in one position. It also absorbs some of the impact in the event of an accident. It means your child is less likely to be injured or killed in an crash. Car seats must be fitted correctly. Here are a few pointers:
- Don't have the car seat too loose
- Make sure the car seat is properly rooted
- Make sure handle is positioned properly if you have a baby car seat
- Ensure your car seats are compatible with your car and correctly fitted
- Keep the car seat in good condition and make sure it's not old or worn
- Check that seat is correct according to the size (height nd weight) of your baby.
Once your chid is 15-25kg (between 4 and 6 years old) they can use a booster seat. The adult seat belt will restrain them so this becomes the most important item to check. Make sure that:
- The belt is as tight as it can be
- The belt is not twisted
- The lap belt goes across the hips and not stomach which is higher
- The diagonal strap should go over the shoulder and not the neck
Rear Facing Car Seats
Consider using rear facing car seats instead of forward facing ones - although less popular in the UK they are in fact considerably safer.