RoSPA have received many enquiries about the new law. This fact sheet compiles the most common questions which we have been receiving and is designed to augment the Child Car Seat Use in Cars and Goods Vehicles - Your Questions Answered page available on the THINK! Road Safety website which contains other frequently asked questions.
A: The law will come into force on Monday the 18th of September 2006. However, don't wait until then to make sure that you are prepared. Make sure you know what the changes will be and that you have suitable child car seats in advance. You can visiit The New Child Car Seat Laws page of the website to find out more details of the change.
A: Your local road safety officer may already have a supply which they can distribute. You can find a list of all the local road safety departments in our Search for Local Help and Advice section.
You may also be able to get some free leaflets on the Department for Transport's THINK! Road Safety campaign (links to external site).
A: The 135cm refers to the height of the child, rather than the height of a child in shoes. There is no rush to get a child out of a booster seat or booster cushion once they reach 135cm in height and, if the child is happy to continue using the booster seat, it is best to leave them in it until they are over the 135cm.
A: Firstly, make sure that the seat can be fitted safely in your car. You can do this by checking it in your car, well in advance of the trip, and getting your friend to take you through the instructions whilst showing you how to fit the seat.
There is a separate page on Fitting Child Seats which may also help.
A safe seat will rest firmly and securely on the car seat with hardly any forwards or sidewards movement when it is fitted to the manufacturer's instructions
If the seat is not safe or it will not fit then you should not use it to transport a child in your car. In order to carry the child safely and legally, you will need to find another child seat.
Make sure that you follow the instructions everytime that you put the child seat into your car.
If you are having difficulty then you can find out if there is a local check point you can take your seat to, your local Road Safety Officer may be able to provide details.
A: The laws aren't changing the types of restraint which should be used. If you have purchased a new child seat recently, and it is still suitable for the child's height and weight, and can be safely and securely fitted into the car, then you do not need to purchase a new one because of the law.
You can find information on our Types of Child Car Seat page.
If you own an old child car restraint which meets standards earlier than ECE R44.03, then you should certainly purchase a new one. Crash testing standards have improved and seats that comply with older standards will have also weakened with age.
A: It is best to keep children in the rear, where they are safest in a crash. However this is sometimes not possible when the three seats do not fit across the rear due to space. If you are having difficulty fitting three child restraints across the back because the central middle seat is a lap belt, then it is worth looking at the advice below on 'Can I use my booster seat with a lap belt?'
The law will allow one child, who is over 3 years old, to use the adult belt in the rear if two occupied child restraints prevent the fitment of the third. The largest child may gain the most benefit from an adult seat belt.
However, it may be safer to put a child in the correct restraint in the front seat of the car rather than using a seat belt in the rear - especially if there is only a lap belt available.
NEVER put a rearward-facing baby seat in the front if there is an active passenger airbag fitted. It will be illegal to do so - and if it goes off, it will hit the baby seat and fling it forward with considerable force. The law will allow you to place a rearward facing child car seat in the front of a vehice but only if the airbag has been deactivated.
If you fit a forward-facing seat in the front, make sure that the car seat is as far back as it will go so your child is as far away from the dashboard as possible. Double check that the child seat is very securely held by the seat belt, and your child is securely held by the child seat's integral harness (if fitted), and that the child's feet are not close to the dashboard.
You should also check the manufacturers advice in the vehicle's handbook.
A: Booster seats and cushions are usually designed to work with a three point belt and require the diagonal strap to safely restrain an occupant, although there are some Group 2 seats which are crash tested and pass the ECE R44 using just a lap belt.
You should check the instructions for the booster seat to see if it can be used with just a lap belt. If the booster seat or cushion is designed for use with a three point belt only, then you should NOT use it with a lap belt.
It is worth contacting some child car seat manufacturers or retailers to find the correct child seat which will work with the lap belt. Your local road safety department may also be able to recommend some good retailers in your area.
A: Although there is an exemption in the new laws, which allows children under 3 to travel unrestrained in the back of a taxi, it is clearly a far from ideal situation. The exemption is there for practical reasons, rather than safety reasons, and there may be ways that you can provide a better level of safety for your child.
Firstly, if you have a child car seat that you can use in the taxi then this may be the safest option.
Telephone the taxi company before the journey and find out which car they will be bringing, to see if your own child restraint will fit. Some child car seat manufacturers have an online database so that you can look up which vehicles your restraint will fit safely, and you can telephone some child seat manufacturers for advice. Once you have found a taxi firm with vehicles your child seat will fit, keep using that firm and specify the vehicle you need when booking.
If you do not have a child restraint available for a journey, then it is worth asking the taxi company if they can provide a child restraint, although it’s unlikely they will be able to do so.
If you are concerned about the way the taxi is being driven, tell the driver and ask him or her to slow down, for example, reminding them that there is an unrestrained young child in the rear. If necessary, report the driver to the taxi operator, and avoid using the firm again if the driving does not improve.
A: If the correct child restraint is not available in a taxi, then over 3 year olds must legally use the adult seat belt.
If you have a child car seat that you can use in the taxi then this may be the safest option.
An adult seat belt will offer some protection, but it is certainly not an ideal situation. Child restraints are much more effective at preventing injury. Again, if you have your own child restraint, see if it can be fitted into the taxi.
Some black cabs have child seats set into the centre arm rest so you could enquire about these before the journey, and if it would be suitable for your child.
A: What we advise is that children stay in a rearward facing seat until they outgrow it. It is safest to carry children rearwards facing and so there is no hurry to move children up to the next group before they have outgrown the rearwards facing seat. Rearwards facing child seats will last a child until their head has come above the top of the seat or they have reached 13kg (29lbs).
A: There is advice which lists some of the things that you can do and say on the THINK! Road Safety campaign website. Always explain clearly and be constant.
A: By law, children can start using an adult seat belt when they are either 12 years old, or 135cm in height. Weight is not a factor which determines when you can legally move a child up to the adult belt.
Even if your child is above the maximum weight of 36 kgs, it’s better to use a booster cushion and the seat belt rather than the seat belt on its own.
A: Sideways facing seats are not a safe way to travel. An adult seat belt is not designed to restrain an occupant who is sitting sidewards, and the same applies to child seats.
Seats tested to UN ECE R44 are not designed, or intended for, vehicle's sidewards facing seats, and do not count as the correct restraint for the child. A child restraint cannot be used on a sidewards facing seat.
You must make sure that every child under 3 is in the correct child seat; otherwise you cannot legally carry the child in the camper van. Make sure that the child seat fits safely and securely, especially if you are using a child seat which you generally use in another vehicle - the design of the seats may be different and it may not fit as safely. You should also ensure that children who are aged between 3 and 12 are using a correct child restraint if seat belts are fitted
If the camper van has a mixture of forward and sideways facing seats, then only use forward facing ones with seat belts.
You can find information about Fitting Child Seats on this website, which may also help.