Richard Moat advises on new child booster seat law

Wed, 01 Mar 2017

DOES MY CHILD’S CAR SEAT BREAK THE LAW?

A ban on car booster seats for some children, due to be introduced in the UK last September, is set to become law this month.

Which, says a leading personal injury lawyer, is good news for many confused parents who already struggle to understand the four categories of child seat, and who find themselves asking ‘am I breaking the law?’.

Richard Moat, Deputy Leader of the Personal Injury Group at No5 Barristers' Chambers, said: “Firstly it’s important to remember that only one type of child car seat is affected by the new law, and that is the category 3 backless ‘booster’ seat for children aged 6-11 years and weighing between 22 and 36kg.

“And secondly, the law will only apply to car seats bought from new after March 1, 2017 – meaning it is perfectly legal to continue using the seat you already have!”

The new guidelines are being brought in for safety reasons: many experts believe small children using backless booster seats are at risk of serious injury in the event of an accident as they don’t offer enough protection, especially from a side impact.

Currently, the rules say:                                                                                                 

- your child must use a car seat until they are 12-years-old or 135cm tall (around 4ft 5) whichever comes first

- children who weigh less than 15kg must use high-backed car seats, but children weighing more than 15kg may use a booster seat

Which means a backless booster seat CAN be used by children weighing as little as two and half stone, allowing a bigger than average 3-year-old to travel with just a booster.

Richard added: “under the new law based on research carried out by experts in child car safety, booster seats can ONLY be used by children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg - the height and weight of an average 7-year-old.”

If a child is under 125cm or weighs less than 22kg and currently uses a backless booster, there is no need to buy a new seat when the law comes into effect. That’s because the new rules only apply to new products. And parents who continue to use an existing booster seat after March 2017 won’t be breaking the law – although experts highly recommend they think about replacing a backless booster seat with something safer.

Safe Kids Worldwide reports that when installed and used correctly, child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by up to 71 per cent. While figures supplied by local authority road safety officers around the country say at least 66 per cent of car seats are wrongly fitted.

Booster cushions are primarily a positioning device, lifting a child up so that the adult seat belt restrains them correctly. They do not offer any additional protection, and they don’t pass a side impact test.

To fully protect your most precious cargo, a high-back booster is the choice of safety experts, in order to offer the best possible head, neck and torso protection.

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