What is the law on child seats in the UK?

If you are driving with young children in the car, it’s important for you to choose the correct car seat for your child’s age, size and weight. There are specific laws on what you can and can’t use in the UK. It is best to consult the government’s website for official guidance.

In this post, we will outline some of the main points for you.

When does my child need a car seat?

As a rule of thumb, your child must have a car seat when they are under 12 years of age, or reach 135cm. Whichever one of these comes first, your child can start to use a normal car seat. Obviously, they will have to wear a seatbelt, as is standard for all adults.

Some experts have argued that a child seat should be used until your child is 150cm tall.  This is the standard in other European countries.

You can choose to buy a car seat either based on your child’s height or weight.

It is illegal to sit your child is an ill-fitting seat so it is important that you tailor it to your child specifically.
Children over 3 years of age must be in a car seat or wearing a seatbelt at all times when in the car. You are responsible to enforce this.

What car seat do I use?

In the UK, you must use an EU-approved height car seat.  You must also seat your child backwards if they are younger than 15 months. When they have reached this age, they are permitted to face forwards. However, you must be sure to disable the front airbags when a baby is in facing backwards in a car seat.

If you are stopped by the police and your child is found to be incorrectly fastened, you could be fined £500 if you are taken to court. What’s more, this could be fatal in the event of an accident.

Car seats are necessary as their bodies are clearly not as developed as adult bodies.  Therefore, they need extra protection in a car. The child seat is designed to provide special and extra protection to children who are travelling in a vehicle.

Why can’t children wear seatbelts?

They cannot simply wear seatbelts, as they are designed to spread the weight in the event of impact across an adult’s body. As a child is a different size and their bodies have not yet developed to take an impact in such a way, they need extra protection from a car seat.

Children over three can sit in the back of a taxi if the driver cannot provide them with the correct seat.  This is so long as they are wearing a seatbelt. The law deems that if a child of 3 makes a necessary yet unexpected trip in the car, they are allowed to sit in the back, using an adult’s seatbelt.

It is very important that you provide your child with the correct car seat, or else you could be dealt a hefty fine, as well as there being the possibility of real danger for the child. Be sure to consult the government’s website for more information on specific laws and rules before making any decisions.

If you have any questions about car insurance, make sure to check out our recent blog post on answering your FAQs!