New legislation on child car seats is being introduced to limit the use of backless booster seats to older children.
The rules are due to come into force at some point this year and will only permit backless booster seats to be used by children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg.
Currently children weighing as little as 15kg can travel in a backless booster seat. This could mean children as young as three are being put on a backless booster seat.
The new rule will prevent children being put on these seats too early in their development. If a child is too small for the backless booster seat the seatbelt could be too high up on their body, which can cause very serious if not fatal injuries in a crash. Ideally older children should sit on a high back booster seat, as they offer more protection and enable the seatbelt to be routed correctly. Although these car seats can be more expensive they offer more protection and therefore more value for money.
Jan Brabin, senior road safety officer at Bury Council, said: “A problem that many parents face is that older children can sometimes be reluctant to use child car seats because they perceive them as babyish and not ‘cool’.
“It is important that children are told why car seats are so important and that parents comply with the law by transporting children safely.
“Parents should not rush their children through the different stages of child car seats. As long as your child is within the weight and height limits of the car seat, the lower stage restraint will offer more protection.”
The new legislation will only apply to newly sold products, so parents currently using a booster seat that already apply to existing regulations, will still be able to use that seat. Any parents looking to buy a backless booster seat this year should start to see that they're not approved for use with children under 125cm and 22kg. According to UK law, all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat until they reach 12 years of age or 135cm in height.
Children need additional protection in cars because their bodies have not fully developed and they are particularly vulnerable to head and neck injuries in a crash or collision.
- Don’t rush your child through the stages of child restraints. The lower stages of restraint offer more protection to younger children.
- Make sure that you have a seat that is compatible with your child’s height and weight.
- Ensure harnesses and seatbelts are not twisted.
- Check that the adult seatbelt is routed correctly if it is being used in association with the child car seat.
In-car safety top tips:
- It is illegal to put a rear-facing child seat in the front passenger seat of a car, where there is an active airbag fitted.
- Adjust the internal straps when your child changes clothes or as your child develops to ensure that they are secure.
- Don’t buy child restraints from the internet as you will not be shown how to fit them and it may not be suitable for your vehicle.
- Don’t use second-hand child car seats as they have a lifespan of approximately five years and you cannot guarantee their history.
- If you are involved in a bump, crash or collision you should replace the child car seat even if no one was in the seat at the time. Some insurers will replace them for free as part of your policy.
Press release issued: 24 January 2017.