Child car seat safety
From 18th September 2006, the law requires all children in cars, vans and other goods vehicles to be carried in an appropriate child restraint from birth until they are either 135cm (4’5”) tall or have reached the age of 12 years (whichever comes first) with very few exceptions. They must then use a seatbelt (although it would be preferable to use a booster seat or booster cushion until they are 150cm (5’) tall).
Some other tips when choosing a car seat
Choose a seat that is suitable for your child’s weight and height:
- Babies should be in rear-facing baby seats.
- Do not move your child to a forward-facing seat until they weigh at least 9 kgs and can sit up unaided.
- Once your child is above the maximum weight for a rear facing seat or the top of their head is above the top of the seat, they should be moved into a forward-facing seat.
Do not buy a second-hand seat, unless you can be certain of its history. It may have been involved in an accident and been seriously weakened. It may not have instructions or be designed to current standards.
Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure the seatbelt passes through all the correct guides on the child seat. If you do not have these, you can contact the manufacturer to provide a copy.
Push your weight into the child seat as you tighten the seat belt to make sure the child seat is securely held.
If you are fitting a forward-facing child seat in the front of a car, make sure the car seat is as far back as it will go as this reduces the possibility of head or chest injuries in a crash. If you take the child seat out of the car, make sure you fit it properly every time you put it back in. If it stays in the car permanently, check it regularly to make sure it is still securely held. Make sure your child uses the seat for every single journey, no matter how short.
If you are using a booster seat or cushion, the adult seatbelt should rest on the child’s shoulder and from hip bone to hip bone. Never tuck the seatbelt under the child’s arm or behind their back.
Some children go through a phase of slipping out of the harness or releasing the buckle but don’t change the buckle to prevent this; you might affect the quick release mechanism.
From May 2008, all child restraints must comply with the UN ECE44.03 standard (or subsequent versions).
Always set a good example by wearing your seat belt.
Related external links
Collaboration of Accident Prevention and Injury Control - www.capic.org.uk (English only)
Child Accident Prevention Trust - www.capt.org.uk (English only)
Child Car Seats - www.childcarseats.org.uk (English only)