Child car seat laws are changing soon - here's all you need to know

The new rules come into force on March 1st 2017 and will limit the use of backless booster seats for older children. Under the new rules, backless booster seats - also known as booster cushions - will only be allowed for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg (3st 6.5lbs). Currently, children weighing as little as 15kg (2st 4lbs) - around three years old - can travel in backless booster seats. Quite simply, the rules have changed to discourage use of this type of seat, as these boosters offer much less protection in a crash.

However this change only applies to new backless booster seats entering the market after March 1st 2017 - if you already own one, it’s fine to continue using it.

There are a few exceptions to the law where children can legally travel without a car seat:

  • On unexpected emergency journeys if only for a short distance and the child is over three years old
  • In a minibus, minicab, taxi, coach or van but not in the front
  • If you have three children sitting in the back of the car, the third car seat simply won’t fit and the child in question is at least three years old.

When choosing a seat, make sure you pick one that will be secure: look for one either with a diagonal strap, one that is designed to be used with a lap seat belt, or one that has ISOFIX anchor points (which keep the chair attached to the seat of the car).

The driver always bears responsibility for children being in car seats when travelling.

How to fit a child car seat correctly:

  • Deactivate the passenger-side airbag if you’re using a rear-facing seat.
  • Check the seat is secure and won’t wiggle around.
  • Ensure the seat buckle is outside the frame (there’s a risk it could come open in an accident otherwise).
  • If you’re fitting a seat for a baby, make sure the harness is pulled tight with a maximum of two fingers’ room between their collar-bones and the shoulder straps.
  • Check the harness buckle is as low as possible - ideally across the child’s pelvis rather than their stomach.
  • Make sure everything is adjusted in line the the seat’s instructions.