The law surrounding child car seats, booster seats and booster cushions has been given a slight tweak. We decided to investigate the new regulations to help keep you on the right side of the law and your little ones safe.
Soon car seat manufacturers will have new rules to follow and this will have an effect on parents looking to buy a booster seat or cushion. So we thought you may appreciate knowing all the facts as well as get a bit of a refresh on child car seat and booster seat regulations in general.
What is the new backless booster seat law?
The Government has banned manufacturers from making new versions of backless booster seats (booster cushions) because they have been deemed less safe. The new law will kick in from the 1st of March, 2017 – the same date will also see heavier speeding fines and punishments for those caught on a mobile phone introduced.
So what does that mean exactly?
It means that car seat manufacturers will no longer be able to make new models of backless booster car seats for children shorter than 125cm (4ft1) tall or weighing less than 22kg (3 stone, 6.5lbs). There is no age aspect of the law for obvious reasons.
Can I use a backless booster seat I already own?
The law only applies to backless booster seats manufactured on or after March, 2017. You are, therefore, perfectly okay to continue to use backless booster car seats without getting in trouble.
The previous law (ECE R4/04) made it okay for booster cushions to be used by children over 15kg (2 stone, 5lbs).
So why the law change?
Because it has been deemed safer to keep your kid in a backed booster car seat for as long as possible, at least until they are 22kg (3 stone, 6.5lbs) in weight.
So what happens when buying a new booster seat?
New products should be labelled more clearly with weight and height restrictions, making it easier to get the seat you need. There is also a good chance you will be asked the height and weight of your child so you best have that to hand.
So if less safe, why are booster seats still legal?
Because some parents will prefer to use them and we would hazard a guess an inferior backless booster cushion is better than no booster car seat at all. It could also be because smaller cars can struggle to fit larger, high-backed Group 2/3 car seats and for financial reasons.
What are the general child car seat and booster seat rules?
- The Government says children must normally use a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Beyond either figure the child must wear a seatbelt
- A child car seat must use a diagonal strap unless specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt or fitted with ISOFIX anchor points. Front airbags must be deactivated if fitting a rear-facing baby seats in the front seat
- A child car seat should not be fitted in a side-facing seat
- The same rules apply for children with disabilities of medical conditions, but a disabled person’s seat belt or child restraint can be used. If this is an issue because of the child’s condition, an exemption certificate can be issued by a doctor
- You can head to the Gov.uk website for more details of the laws surrounding child car seats