A few years ago the government introduced a host of new requirements aimed at ensuring children are safe when theyre travelling as passengers in a vehicle. MFD However, research conducted by LV= Streetwise found 25 per cent of drivers are still flouting these rules.
All children under the age of 12, or under 135cm tall, are required to use a child seat when they travel in a car. This is because kids are proportioned differently and their bones are still growing, meaning standard seat belts do not offer the same amount of protection as they do for adults.
Government guidelines have categorised the seats children use into four groups. Group 0 and Group 0+ are rear-facing seats designed for use by babies weighing up to 13kg. These are fitted in place with an adult setback and must never be placed in the front seat of a vehicle unless the airbag has been deactivated.
Babies weighing between 9kg and 18kg are required to use a Group II seat, classified as forward-facing baby seats. These must be positioned as far back from the airbag as possible if theyre being used in the front seat.
Group II are forward-facing child seats, also known as booster seats, designed for youngsters between 15 and 25kg. Group III are booster seats without a back or wings, which raise the child so theyre able to use the standard seatbelt. They should only be used by kids weighing more than 15kg.
Children over the age of 14 must always wear an adult seatbelt if there is one available.
With such comprehensive rules in place, its perhaps unsurprising so many parents and carers are confused about following the rules.
The research by LV= Streetwise discovered 32 per cent of drivers admit to still being unsure about the regulations, despite the laws being changed nearly five years ago. One in five admitted they had no idea that such legislation even existed.
This is unlikely to stand as a reasonable excuse, however, when they are given a £500 fine.
Extended family and friends were shown to be least likely to understand the rules around making sure children stay safe in vehicles, with 35 per cent of aunties, uncles and cousins not using the devices and around a quarter being unaware of their existence.
Simply buying a car seat isnt enough either, making sure its the right model for the vehicle and the child and is fitted properly are equally important.
The Good Egg Campaign was started last year to clear up some of the confusion surrounding this issue. It says height, weight and age are the key factors to get right when choosing a child seat. Never buy a seat unless it displays the United Nations ECE R44.04 mark and is suitable for the vehicle it will be used in.
Isofix seat mounts are the safest way to secure a baby or child seat in your car. Most seat manufacturers make products designed specifically for use with these super-strong mounting points, which are common in many modern cars, and very easy to use, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) recommended.
Once the car seat is fitted, the IAM also recommends trying to move it backwards and forward; the car, rather than the seat, should move.
If secured correctly a car seat will significantly reduce the risk of a child being injured in an accident, as well as ensuring drivers are not falling foul of the law. It is also advisable for parents to get their car insured without fail, which also covers the insurance for the travelers.