Are Car Seat Laws Changing?

Last Updated On June 10th, 2020

Newer and stricter rules will be in force in later 2016 that limit the usage of backless car seats for older children. Under current laws all children who travel in a vehicle must be seated in an appropriate car seat until they are 12 years old or 1.35 metres tall. By comparison, the laws in most European countries, including Germany and France, have a height limit of 1.5 metres. The new rules will only approve the use of backless booster seats for usage with children who are taller than 1.25 metres, and who weigh more than 22kg. Currently children who weigh as low as 15kg, the average weight for a 3 year old, are allowed to travel with backless booster seats.

A number of child car seat experts are in agreement that these types of booster seats are not suitable for children who are so young. Most retailers who specialize in selling car seats have not had backless boosters seats in stock for around a decade. Furthermore, a number of manufacturers no longer even make these types of car seats for sale anywhere in the UK.

happy boy using a car seatOne expert explained that all booster seats do is place the lap belt correctly for the height of a child, but beyond that they offer no protection in the case of an accident. Booster seats are a relic of the early 2000s and before when many children had no additional protection in cars, and there were no laws requiring the use of car seats. Under these circumstances, many experts saw boosters seats as better than the alternative of no protection at all, but with the wide availability of far more advanced car seats, booster seats are now a dangerous relic of the past. A proper high-backed seat will protect the child’s head in a crash, whereas there is nothing on a booster seat to keep the child’s head from hitting the side of the car.

It is advised that children start in a 9-18 kg group one car seat that uses a harness then advance into a booster with a high back until they are 1.5 metres tall, which is around 11 or 12 years old. The best models fix the seat directly to the vehicle and will last from the ages of 4 to 11, and cost around 80 pounds.

What Exactly Are the New Laws?

Under the new UK law children must be in a car seat until they are 1.35 metres tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first. However, experts recommend that you use a car seat for any child under 1.5 metres. For those children who weigh more than 36kg yet are less than 1.5 metres tall, it is recommended to go by the child’s height instead of their weight. It is always the driver’s responsibility to ensure that children are in appropriate car seats when travelling.

When Do the Laws Change?

The new laws should will be in effect in December 2016, but will only apply to new products.

Can Booster Seats Still Be Used?

The new laws only allow the use of backless booster seats for children who are taller than 1.25 metres and who weigh more than 22kg. However, they are not recommended for use.

Also read: Are Car Seats Universal?

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