Frequently Asked Questions
A: No, it is unsafe and illegal to do this. The back of the baby seat would be very close to the dashboard and as the airbag deployed in a crash it would strike the baby seat. This could cause serious injury to your child.
A: It is better not to place a forward-facing restraint in a seat with an airbag; try to avoid this if possible. If it is not possible, then check the advice of the vehicle manufacturer. Find out how far the airbag extends when deployed and ensure that your child is well outside the expansion area. Ensure that the passenger seat is as far back from the airbag as possible, that the child seat is very securely fitted and the child is securely held by the harness or seat belt.
A: The testing that has been done so far demonstrates that side airbags will not cause injury to children in child restraints, provided that the restraint is fitted properly and your child is using it correctly. However, problems may arise with side airbags if passengers are resting or sleeping against the door. Some manufacturers have developed seats with added protection for side impacts - if possible, use one of these.
A: Yes. If your child is aged under 12 years they must be using an appropriate child restraint, unless they are over 135cm in height. Once a child is taller than 135cm, you may move a child out of the booster seat or booster cushion, regardless of their age, although they must still legally use the adult belt. It is the drivers responsibility to ensure that every passenger under 14 is restrained within the law.
However, if a child is in a rearward facing child car seat, and the front passenger seat is protected by an active frontal airbag, then it is illegal to carry your child in the front.
Although the law does allow you to carry children in the front (with the one exception above), it is safer for children to travel in the rear.
A: It is safer for your child to travel in the rear seat as there are more front impact crashes. Therefore if you have the choice, put your child in a rear passenger seat. If the middle rear seat has a 3-point diagonal belt, this is the safest seat to travel in. Always check that the child seat fits properly in the position you have chosen.
Click here for advice on Fitting Child Seats.
A: Yes, it provides greater protection in a crash. A lap belt is far better than no belt at all, but make sure it fits across the top of your child's thighs and around their hips, not across their stomach because in a crash this could cause damage to internal organs.
Some child restraints can only be fitted with a three-point lap and diagonal seat belt; always check the fitting instructions.
A: It is difficult to say conclusively which is the safer option and ultimately it will be a question of personal choice influenced by the age and size of your children and whether they are using child restraints.
It is safer for a child to use a 3-point belt than a lap-only belt but the rear passenger seats are safer than the front seat. Some child restraints (mostly group 1 seats) can be fitted using the lap belt only - check the manufacturers' fitting instructions. If you do have to put a child in the front seat, put the tallest/heaviest child in the front. If there is an airbag, make sure the passenger seat is rolled back as far as possible, that the child seat is very securely fitted and the child is securely held by the harness or seat belt.
If you do have to put a child in a seat with a lap belt, put the tallest/heaviest child in this seat, and make sure the lap belt is worn correctly - across the top of your child's thighs and around their hips, not across their stomach.
Under no circumstances, put a rearward-facing baby seat in the front if there is a passenger airbag.
A: No. Child restraints are tested and approved for the child's weight not age. Provided that the top of your child's head does not extend above the back of the seat, s/he should remain in the rearward-seat until s/he is over 9kg and can confidently and comfortably sit up for a reasonable length of time (30 minutes or more is a good guide).
Do not rush to move your baby into a forward-facing seat, rearward-facing is safer and gives better protection to their head, neck and spine in a crash.
A: No. We do not recommend using any device which may interfere with the operation of the buckle or seatbelt. It is not known how such devices will behave in a crash and they could impede the emergency services in freeing your child from the vehicle. There may also be implications for your insurance if you have modified a safety feature like the seatbelt.
Follow our advice on 'children undoing buckles'.
A: Any child used in the UK must conform to the standard ECE R44.03 or R44.04, which is usually denoted with the letter E in a circle and a number (the number indicates the country in which the seat was tested and approved - the UK is 11).
The standard applies Europe-wide and therefore European manufactured seats will be an 'appropriate' restraint within the meaning of our laws and can be sold and used in the UK. Always check that they fit your vehicle and child.
It is unlikely that seats from the States or Australasia will meet ECE R44.03 or R44.04, and the method of fixing seats into vehicles can differ between countries. Child restraints that do not meet these standards cannat be used in the UK.
Q: I have heard about Group 1 rearward facing child car seats, are these available in the UK?
A: There are some places where you can purchase them in the UK, and we have produced advice for parents about Group 1 Rearward Facing Seats.
We still advise that it is crucial to try one out in your car to make sure that it can be fitted safely and securely before making a purchase. Without doing so there is a chance that the seat will not fit your car and a badly fitted child car seat will not offer the standard of protection which you would expect from it.