If you are driving with children, you need to make sure they’re safe in the car. You also need to make sure you’re acting within the law – and the law is very clear about the proper use of child seats. Basically, any child under the age of 12 or shorter than 135cms (approximately 4ft 5in) must use an appropriate ‘child restraint’ – legalese for a car seat.
Legal penaltiesThe driver is deemed responsible for the correct use of restraints for children under the age of 14, and there is a £30 fixed penalty if anyone is caught flouting the law. You could also be fined up to a £500 if the case goes to court.
Weigh upMost people assume the type of seat depends on the age of the child, but in fact it depends on the child’s weight. So it’s a good idea to weigh the child before you go shopping for a car seat – and change as and when necessary as the child grows.
Types of seatsThere are various makes and models of car seats, and the exact specifications depend on the manufacturer. But as a rough guide…
- new parents should opt for a rear-facing baby seat, which is usually suitable for infants up to 13kg
- when the baby gets a bit bigger, you will probably need to upgrade to a forward or rear-facing baby seat for a child between 9kg and 18kg
Try not to move your baby into a forward-facing seat too early as you could risk greater neck and head injuries if you are involved in a crash.
- forward-facing child seats are designed for children between 15kg and 25kg
- finally, the booster cushion is appropriate for children over 22kg.