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Child Car Seats and the Law

It is essential for your child's safety that you adhere to the law on car seats, and failure to do so can result in fines of up to £500. Since the 18th September 2006 the law on this area has changed, so it is important that you are familiar with the changes, to ensure that you comply with it.

What the law says:

  • It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that children under the age of fourteen years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law. When a child reaches the age of fourteen, it is the responsibility of the individual passenger to ensure that they are wearing the seat belt.
  • Children up to the age of three when travelling in cars, vans and goods vehicles must use the correct child restraint in both the front and the rear of the vehicle.
  • The only exemption for children under the age of three is when travelling in a taxi and a child car seat has not been made available. It is only in this scenario that they may travel unrestrained. This law is based on practical rather than safety reasons, and is the only exception for this age group.
  • In cars, vans and goods vehicles, if there is no seat belt fitted then a child under three years cannot travel in that vehicle.
In the front of the vehicle:
  • Children from three years old up to 135cm/4'5" tall (or had their 12th birthday - whichever they reach first) must use the correct restraint for their weight and size. The correct restraint being a child car seat or a booster seat.
  • It is illegal to use a rear facing child car seat (infant carrier) in the front of a vehicle protected by a frontal airbag, unless it has been manually or electronically de-activated. However, before doing so it is important to check with your insurance company, as this may invalidate your policy. We strongly advise that even if the airbag is de-activated, you use the back of the car, as there is still a potential risk that the airbag will go off.
In the rear of the vehicle:
  • Children from three years up to 135cm must use the correct restraint. If there are no seat belts fitted, children of this size can sit in the rear unrestrained

There are three exemptions for children aged three to the height of 135cm where a seat belt is not available. In each case the child MUST use the adult seat belt instead:

1. When travelling in a taxi (private hire vehicle), if the correct child restraint is not available then the adult seat belt must be worn (where seat belts are fitted)

2. When two child car seats are already occupied in the rear and it is not possible to fit a third one

3. For a short journey of 'unexpected necessity' that could not have possibly be planned for

The changes made to the law ensure that children are properly protected as passengers in vehicles. Seat belts are purposely designed to protect an adult, and children require special products to offer them the same level of protection.

  • Children over 135cm/4'5" in height (or have reached their 12th birthday) must use the adult seat belt if one is fitted.
  • Using a booster seat ensures the lap belt is kept low over the hip/pelvis, which prevents abdominal injury. With a booster seat, the child is raised up so that the diagonal belt is in the correct position across the chest, which will reduced the risk of broken ribs and punctured lungs. The belt should not rest across the neck

Back to car seats: the definitive guide homepage


Buying Your Car Seat

Fitting Your Car Seat

This section includes information on the different types of car seat, explaining which seat is the right size for your child, what to look for, useful accessories and important things to remember before you buy. The car seat safety guide, sections on child car seats and the law, and car seats on test, provide the vital safety information that you need when buying your car seat. This section also includes information on fitting your seat, with a step-by-step guide to installing your car seat, a list of common problems and information on where to get help.

With most car seats in the UK being fitted incorrectly, it is crucial that you have access to the right information when selecting and fitting your child's seat. Our trained staff are all experienced car seat fitters and we have used their collective knowledge to put together this information. The golden rule is that it is absolutely essential that you get the fit checked if you are in any doubt at all.. Some manufacturers have car compatibility fitting guides on their websites, however it should be remembered that these are just guides and are not definitive lists. Not all car seats will fit all cars, and no car or car seat manufacturer can guarantee a secure and safe fit. All cars are different, even two of the same make and model can have different length seat belts!

It is therefore essential to ensure your car seat is fitted correctly, in order to secure your child's safety whilst travelling in the car. The showroom is based just outside of Wallingford and we are always happy to check the fitting of your car seat.

Three important points to remember about car seats are:

  • Always buy a car seat to suit your child's weight rather than height.
  • Not all car seats fit all cars; check the model you have chosen will fit your car. Seek professional advice if you are unsure.
  • Always buy a car seat because it has safety features that improve fit and protection, not because it has attractive fabric choices or good value accessories.

Useful Links

Maxi Cosi CabrioFix Isofix Car Seat Maxi Cosi Pearl Isofix Car Seat Recaro Monza Seatfix Car Seat