Car Seats and Keeping Your Child Safe in the Car

Sadly, car crashes are a significant cause of death and injury amongst children. Recently there has been an increase in cases of faulty car seats. So how can you make sure your child is as safe as possible? This guide will give you all the details and keep you up-to-date with all the legal requirements around car seats and travelling on the road with your child.

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Baby car seats – the law and how to avoid a £500 fine

New UK baby car seat laws came into affect in March 2017. The new laws mean that:

  • Children shorter than 125cm or who weigh less than 22kg must not use backless booster seats. Previously, children only had to weigh 15kg to sit in a backless booster seat
  • Children are required to use a car seat until they are either 12 years old or 135cm (4ft 5in) tall

It’s also important to remember that:

  • Only EU-approved seats can be used in the UK. Approved seats should have an ‘E’ symbol on them.
  • Car seats should be selected based on your child’s height and weight
  • Babies should be in a baby carrier, as opposed to a child seat, until they weigh at least 9kg.
  • Youngsters must travel in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 15 months old
  • If your child is found travelling in a seat that does not meet the requirements for their age, height and weight, you may face a £500 fine

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How to fit a child’s car seat

Is your child’s car seat fitted properly? If it is not it may come loose during a crash, putting your child in danger of suffering a serious injury. Here are some tips:

  • Firstly, you should always follow the instructions given to you by the manufacturer. This will help you to fit the seat as securely as possible
  • Make sure that the seat’s buckle is clear of the frame. Otherwise, the buckle could snap open from increased pressure if you have an accident
  • Only use a child car seat if the seatbelt in the car has a diagonal strap (unless the seat is specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt). Lap seat belts are normally found in the centre rear seat of an average five seat car
  • Importantly, if you are placing a rear-facing baby seat in the front of the car make sure you deactivate any front airbags

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When can your children legally travel without a car seat?

Wherever possible, it is advisable for children to travel in car seats, but there are several instances when it is legal for your child to travel in a car without a car seat. Your child can legally travel in the following vehicles without seats, subject to certain conditions:

Taxis and private hire vehicles

If the driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat, children can travel without one – but only if they travel on a rear seat:
• and wear an adult seat belt if they’re 3 or older
• without a seat belt if they’re under 3

Minibuses, coaches and vans

Minibus or coach drivers and companies don’t have to provide child car seats. You must provide your own if you want to make sure a child has one.

Coaches: Children can travel without a child car seat or seat belt, if they’re not available.
Minibuses: All children must travel in rear seats (any seats behind the driver) if a child car seat or an adult seat belt isn’t fitted.

Children aged 3 or older must:

  • use a child car seat if there’s one available in a minibus
  • use an adult seat belt if child car seats are not fitted or are unsuitable

Unexpected journeys

If the correct child car seat isn’t available, a child aged 3 or older can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:

  • unexpected
  • necessary
  • over a short distance

You can’t take children under 3 on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without the correct child car seat, unless both of the following apply:

  • it’s a licensed taxi or minicab
  • the child travels on a rear seat without a seat belt

No room for a third child car seat

Children under 3 must be in a child car seat. If there’s no room for a third child car seat in the back of the vehicle, the child must travel in the front seat with the correct child car seat. Children aged 3 or older can sit in the back using an adult belt.

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Watch out for recalled and dangerous car seats

At What’s My Claim Worth we would always advise that you thoroughly research a potential car seat before and after you purchase it. Car seats are not all made the same and some may be much safer than others.

Before you buy you should look for reviews and feedback on various car seats, to make sure you are choosing the right one. We would recommend looking at the reviews of independent companies who have tested the product.

Which? is a company who are known for testing and reviewing household products. These products range from car seats to digital cameras.  They independently test and review car seats, and publish great advice on which car seats are the safest. Which? also frequently publish articles letting their readers know which car seats have recently been recalled due to dangerous features.

You should always check that the car seat you are placing your child in has not been recalled after you have purchased it. Car seats can be recalled because they have dangerous faults. The harness working properly could be the difference between a minor injury in a crash, and a much more severe one.

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Claiming compensation if your child is injured in a car accident

Hopefully, it will never happen, but if your child is injured in a car accident, we advise that you get in touch with us to see if you can seek compensation on their behalf.

You can find out more about claiming compensation by clicking here or by calling 0800 025 0000.

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