New stricter laws aimed at improving the safety of children in cars are due to come into force later this this year.
Under current laws, children who are under 12 years old or 1.35m tall – whichever comes first – must use the appropriate car seat, including so-called ‘booster seats’.
New rules, expected to be introduced in December 2016, will ban the sale of backless booster seats for children under 125cm in height and 22kg in weight. Experts suggest these seats do not provide adequate protection for children in the event of an accident. At present, children weighing as little as 15kg – around three-years old – can travel in backless booster seats.
From December, the new rules state that any child under 125cm in height and 22kg in weight must be safely secured in a high-backed child seat or the driver could face a fine of £500. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure the child is in the appropriate seat for the duration of the journey.
The only exceptions to this rule is if the journey is in a licensed taxi or minicab where the rear seats are separate from the driver by a fixed partition and the child travels on the rear seats.
For the time being, the new regulations will only apply to new products released on the market. Parents can continue to use backless booster seats for any child over 125cm in height and 22kg in weight, but experts say that this should be avoided as they do not provide any protection to the child’s head and shoulders.
Head of Regulatory and Criminal Justice, Sean Joyce, said: “The upcoming change in the law is one of the myriad of rules and regulations facing UK motorists, but it is certainly one that all drivers with children should be aware of.
“Failing to adhere to the new rules could result in a £500 fine or a court appearance, so making sure your child’s car seat meets the prescribed standards should be a priority.”