New Car Seat Laws
The child car seat law in the UK has changed, and children must remain in car seats until they are 1.35m tall or aged 12. We have the lowdown on the new laws and tips to get your older children back into car seats.
What the law means for your child
From 18th September 2006, British law requires all children to travel in an appropriate car seat until they reach either 135cm in height or 12 years of age (i.e. all children born after Sept 1994).
Your child’s weight determines the type of seat they need. Babies travel in rear-facing baby seats, under 4s need child seats, and under 12s can use a booster chair or cushion. It is recommended that children travel in the rear seats of the car whenever possible.
As a driver, it is your legal responsibility to ensure your child is correctly restrained, but many older children will baulk at the idea of booster seats. So how do you convince them that Mum knows best?
- Stress to your child that you love them and their safety is your priority. Gently discuss the consequences (such as bruising or injury) if they fail to use the correct car seat.
- Explain that adult seat belts are not made for children, and they will actually be more comfortable (and have a better view out the window!) if they use a booster seat.
- Encourage your child to decorate their booster chair with ribbons or stickers – you can make it a family project.
- Clean out the front seat pockets and fill them with treats for your child.
- If your child is embarrassed because of peer pressure, explain that it is the right thing to do, even though it may be hard at first. Talk about times you were embarrassed and how you dealt with it.
- Choose a car seat that has a lasting design (one that the child won’t bore of by age 12!).
- Think about what’s right for your child – Is the car seat the correct weight? Is the cover washable? Can it be removed quickly?
- Over time, child seats will become a cultural norm – in the same way seatbelts are now. When your child realises their friends are wearing child restraints too, the ‘car seat battles’ should become easier!
Note: The new law makes an exception for taxis, hire cars and emergency journeys. Where there are already two car seats in the back, a child may use a standard seatbelt in the middle.
Different cars require different car seats, so check with your car seat dealer for advice.
- Car games: Car games can help to make long trips bearable – even fun! All these games can be played by young and older children, no props required.
- Car Travel Products: Travelling with kids this autumn? See the Supernanny website’s list of indispensable things to amuse and entertain…
Find Out More
- Think Road Safety is a useful government website which summarises the new laws.
- Child Car Seats provides a detailed guide to the new laws and how to choose a car seat.
- Carseatdata.org is US-based organisation which rates and debates car seat options.