New law requires all drivers with passengers under the age of 12 who are under 4'5" (135cm) in height to fit the correct child restraint.
It is important that the correct car seat for the child's height and weight is used. Normal seat belts are designed for adult bodies so children need to use child seats and boosters to place them in the right position to use the seatbelt properly and safely.
If the correct child seat or booster is not used, the adult belt will fit too high over the stomach and in a crash there is a risk of damage to internal organs, as well as a danger that a child could slide under the belt.
Children who are not restrained properly in the back seats of a vehicle also pose a danger to people in the front seats as they can be thrown forward in the event of a crash.
The regulations state that:
- All children under three years old must use the correct child seat when travelling in any car or goods vehicle (except in the rear of a taxi if a child seat is not available).
- Children aged between three and 12 years of age must use the correct child seat/booster cushion when travelling in cars or goods vehicles until they reach about 4' 5" (135cms). Few exceptions are permitted.
- Taller children and all those aged 12 and over need to use adult belts.
- Rear-facing baby seats must not be used in seats with an active frontal air bag.
- There are some specific practical exemptions - for taxis, emergency vehicles, and (for children aged 3 and over) journeys over a short distance in an unexpected necessity.
The penalty for not using a child restraint is a £30 fixed penalty notice for the driver of the vehicle. If the case goes to court, the maximum fine is £500.
For more information and advice on the changes in legislation contact your local policing unit or go to http://www.dft.gov.uk/