The expected child booster seat laws came into force on the 27th of February, earlier than the expected date of first March. These new laws make it illegal for lighter and smaller children to travel in booster seats.
The new UK car seat laws are aimed at addressing pediatric and regulatory concerns that some parents were using booster seats for children that may be too small or too young.
In the new regulations, backless booster seats have to be manufactured such that they can be used for children who weigh at least 22 kg or are 125 cm tall or more. With the changes in the law which have come before their expected date many parents are concerned or confused of what to make of them.
So here is the gist of what you need to know about the new laws:
- Children must be kept in a booster seat until they are 125 cm tall or 12 years old depending on which is attained first.
- You must keep height based seats in the safer rear facing position until the child is at least 15 months old
- You must keep the weight based car seat in the rear facing mode until the child is at leas 13 kgs - you are allowed to install the seat either in the forward or backward facing mode after this.
- You must ensure that the child has a seat that comes with a diagonal seat belt unless the seat comes with ISOFIX anchor points, five point harness or is made for lap belts. This rear facing car seat law applies to all rear facing car seats.
- You must disable the front airbag if you are using a booster seat in the front seat - Read here why It is always advisable that the child rides in the backseat at all times until they are at least 12 years.
- If you are traveling in a coach, minibus or taxi, the child may travel without a booster seat
- If you are going on a necessary, urgent or short distance trip, you can use the adult seat belt with a child that is three years or older.
- You may be liable to a fine of up to £100 if you are found traveling with a child without having them in a booster seat appropriate for their weight, height and age.
The New Regulations
According to the new regulations manufacturers now have to adhere to set standards in the designing of booster seats and will no longer be allowed to manufacturer new design of car seats for children weighing less than 22 kg or shorter than 125 cm.
What are the Implications
You can still use your backless booster seat without any fear of getting fined under the new laws
Manufacturers are affected more given that government regulators have asserted that the new rules do not make backless booster car seats illegal or unsafe, and hence you can continue using existing models of booster cushions and seats.
The rules are only applicable for products that are still in the shop - these products need to have labels that indicate that the backless boosters will be used for children heavier than 22 kg and taller than 125 cm
How to Ensure Your Child is Safe
- Only buy seats that come with an orange label that usually has the code R129 and a capital E on it. If your car seat has such a label you can be confident that it is in compliance with the new safety regulations.
- If you go for a weight based car seat, you need to remember that the seats are designed for different weights depending on the manufacturer. Check that the car seat has a label with the code ECE R44 and a capital E which means it is an EU approved car seat that you can use in the UK.
- Always check the car seat manual and ask if it is of the appropriate size and weight for your child
- Follow the vehicle and car seat manufacturer manual to ensure that the seat is installed correctly and safely. If you can have a certified car seat technician fit the seat or check that it is installed correctly. You can find car seat safety technicians to help with installation at events such as these.
- Do not buy second hand seats or any seat that is damaged in any way or has been in an accident as its structural integrity may be compromised.
- Check that the car seat model you are looking to buy can be used with your given car model.
It won't affect children who weigh less than 15kg
Currently children weighing as little as 15kg, around three years old, can travel in the backless seats and if you choose to continue with the seat you have then you will NOT be fined, or face any legal action.
Children Less than 15 kg
If your child is 3 years old or younger and weighs less than 15 kg they can still travel in a backless booster seat with no legal implications for you.
Nonetheless, you need to know that the purpose of these new regulations is to make sure that children are as safe as possible during your journeys. As such, if you can use another type of car seat such as a high back booster, a combination or a convertible car seat, it is always advisable to do so.
Statement from the Department of Transport
According to a statement released by the department of transport:
New booster cushions without a backrest will only be able to be approved as ‘Group 3’ products, i.e. for children over 125cm or 22kg. Currently, it is possible for these booster cushions to be approved for smaller children. It will only affect new products, not those already on the market. Parents can continue using existing booster seats for children under the minimum height without facing any penalty."
Booster Cushions are not So Safe
Booster cushions are made to be used as belt positioning devices meaning that in essence they just lift the child up so that the vehicle's regular seat belts may fit correctly. They are deficient as compared to the features offered by other types of car seats.
They do not come with side impact protection since they lack side and back wings making them insufficient in the instance of a collision.
The experts at Good Egg Safety reckon that 34% of 8-11 year olds in the United Kingdom travel without booster seats on journeys on which they would need one.
A high-back booster is far more preferable to a booster cushion, to provide children with adequate head, neck and torso protection from side impacts, which booster cushions do not offer. We implore parents to buy these instead and ensure they are the right seat for their child and car