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You'll no doubt be aware that besides the changes to the penalties for phone use while driving came into effect this month, along with a new baby car seat law which ensures that babies and children undertaking car journeys are kept safe by using a properly fitted car seat.

We have spoken about it in a previous blog here, but basically:

  • A child must sit in a car seat until they are 12 years old or 4’5” tall, depending on which comes first.
  • If the child is older than 15 months, the seat can be front-facing, but up till then, it must be rear-facing.
  • If the child as a baby weighs less than 9 kg, they should travel in a baby carrier rather than a child seat.

A child is allowed to sit in a backless booster seat once they are over 4' 1" tall, and weigh over 22kg. This is the major change to the law, but people who already have booster seats for children below these restrictions already using them are allowed to continue to do so. It is preferable to have a child in a seat with a back.

Exceptions are made with emergency journeys of a short distance with a child over the age of 3, minibus, minicab, taxi, coach or van journeys (but not in the front), and journeys where a third child's seat simply won't fit in the back of a car with two others and the child is aged over 3. With these a car seat is not compulsory.

It is important to make sure that these seats are fitted properly. It may sound obvious to say, but research by Car Insurance Company Sheila’s Wheels, claimed that a third of child car seats in the UK are installed wrong, and Confused.com suggested that up to 66% of parents have no idea as to the current booster seat height, age and weight regulations, despite a lot of media and press coverage. In fact, many of them won't know their child's height or weight. (I am going to check my grandson's right now!)

Choosing a Car

When looking for a car in which to transport your loved ones, you'll want to consider quite a few things from safety ratings, practicality and fuel economy to more specific child-friendly things like space (including boot space for a pram, baby tings, toys and kitchen sink), interior room, perhaps infotainment and ISOFIX car seat fixtures.

With the last of these, ISOFIX anchor points (which keep the chair attached to the seat of the car) are part of the car itself, and are used with seats that are made for that purpose.

When the car seat is fitted in, whether it is tethered by the ISOFIX anchor points, a diagonal seat belt strap, or a lap seat belt, you need to make sure that the seat is fitted correctly.

This article here in The Independent, tells you how to do it.

  • Deactivate any front-facing airbags if you’re using a rear-facing seat.
  • Check the seat is secure and won’t wiggle around.
  • Ensure the seat buckle is outside the frame (there’s a risk it could come open in an accident otherwise).
  • If you’re fitting a seat for a baby, make sure the harness is pulled tight with a maximum of two fingers’ room between their collar-bones and the shoulder straps.
  • Check the harness buckle is as low as possible - ideally across the child’s pelvis rather than their stomach.
  • Make sure everything is adjusted in line with the seat’s instructions.

You should also make sure that any sort of car seats are:

  • EU-approved (i.e. marked with a capital ‘E’ in a circle)
  • Not positioned where airbags are. If so, airbags should be deactivated. Be aware that some cars do not allow deactivation of airbags.
  • The right size for the child. (See our guide here to see all seat options for ages)
  • Sturdy enough, especially if the seat is old or secondhand.
  • Not be used in side-facing seats

Responsibilities

The question of who is responsible when it comes to making sure that all child passengers are wearing their seatbelts and using the appropriate seat or child restraint is simple to answer: the driver.

Letting a child travel in the wrong car seat, or without one, is not only dangerous and irresponsible, but also illegal. If you are caught failing to ensure that a child passenger is not using an appropriate child restraint, you could face a fine of up to £500, you could find your insurance increasing, and, if you are carrying someone else's child, you could face civil proceedings. 

Leasing a car

If you want to talk to one of our Customer Service representatives about which cars we offer that  are the best option for you with regards to child safety, contact us for some no-obligation advice. You will find a whole host of cars available with the very latest safety technology, lots of space and lots of options so that you can tailor your car to your needs before it arrives with you with FREE delivery.

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