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From Monday, 18th September 2006, a new law comes into force in the UK regarding the use of child restraints for children when travelling by car in the UK. This new law regarding child restraints can be summarised as follows. For more detailed information please see Child Restraints and Booster Seats – New UK Law at TheTravelPage.co.uk
|From 18 September 2006 in cars, vans and goods vehicles|
|Front seat||Rear seat||Who is responsible?|
|Driver||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Driver|
|Child up to 3 years*||Correct child restraint MUST be used*.||Correct child restraint MUST be used*. If one is not available in a taxi, may travel unrestrained.||Driver|
|Child from 3rd birthday up to 135cms in height (approx 4’5″) (or 12th birthday whichever they reach first)**||Correct child restraint MUST be used***.||Where seat belts fitted, correct child restraint MUST be used. Must use adult belt if the correct child restraint is not available:- in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle; or
- for a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity; or
- two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of a third.A child 3 and over may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not available.
|Child over 1.35 metres (approx 4ft 5ins in height) or 12 or 13 years||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Driver|
|Adult passengers (ie 14 years and over)||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Seat belt MUST be worn if available.||Passenger|
In addition, the revised regulations also say that rear-facing baby seats MUST NOT be used in a seat protected by a frontal air-bag unless the air-bag has been deactivated manually or automatically.
* Children under 3 years MUST use the child restraint appropriate for their weight in all cars, vans and other goods vehicles, with the single exception for the rear of taxis. They cannot travel otherwise. This means for example that they may not travel in cars, vans or goods vehicles which do not have seat belts installed.
** Examples. A 7 year old who is 140 cms tall is over the height for a child restraint and may use an adult seat belt. A 12 year old who is 130 cms tall is over the age threshold and therefore may use an adult belt.
*** If no seat belts are fitted in the front, then children under 135 cms in height (who are also under 12 years of age) cannot travel in the front.
In buses and coaches (including minibuses), seated passengers aged 14 years and above will have to use seat belts where they are fitted. Regulations requiring children 3 years to 13 years to use seat belts (or child restraints if they are available) in these vehicles will be brought forward as soon as practicable. The regulations will not include any obligation for anyone to provide child restraints in these vehicles. Bus and coach (including minibus) operators need to notify their passengers that seat belt wearing is compulsory.
Three exceptions allow children 3 years to 135 cms in height to travel in the rear and use an adult belt:
- in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle, if the right child restraint is not available (Children under 3 years may also travel in the rear of a taxi unrestrained if no child restraint is available); or
- for unexpected necessity over a short distance, if the right child restraint is not available (note that regular school trips are not included in this exception); or
- where two occupied child seats in the rear prevent the fitment of a third child seat.
All the indications are that you can expect leniency from the police for a few weeks while everyone gets used to the new rules, which is just as well as many high street shops have completely sold out of the booster seats (although full size child restraints for smaller children are still widely available). The police will probably offer guidance to offenders in the short term.
After this initial period, however, if you are caught in breach of the new law you will receive a fine of £30!
If you want to obtain a booster seat quickly then we recommend you try ebay.co.uk. If you can wait a little longer, we think you’ll get a better price (and/or better quality) by sticking to established makes from stores like Argos.co.uk (who’ll deliver to your home for a small charge). With Argos.co.uk , of course, you can also check availability and reserve online, and then collect it from your local store yourself.
You can find even more information on the new law for child restraints at TheTravelPage.co.uk/booster_seats