When purchasing a car seat for your child or baby, ensuring you have the correct size can be something of a complicated process, especially in light of changing regulations. The rules around car seats are set to change over the next two to three years as a result of both UK and EU legislation. With this in mind, Trust My Garage take a closer look at everything you need to know in order to keep your child safe and to ensure you’re not breaking the law.
The current laws in place stipulates that a child travelling in a car must use a child car seat until the age of 12 years old or until they reach the height of 135 cm. Under new rules which are set to come into force later this year, backless booster seats are set to be restricted, resulting in them only to be used for children who are taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kgs. The results have come about due to concerns regarding the safety of the booster seats, especially in regards to younger children. Experts are recommending that parents should instead high backed booster seats, as they provide a greater level of protection, guiding the seatbelt across a child’s body properly. In addition, tests have shown they offer a greater level of protection in the event of side on crashes in comparison to their backless counterparts. The new rules are expected to come into force by the end of the year, meaning the rules will be applied to all new products released from 2017.
Making it simpler
In addition to UK regulations in regards to booster seats, the EU has also announced the introduction of the the European standard i-Size car seats. The new seat plans were announced in 2013, with the aim of making the process of buying a car seat simpler and safer, with the changes in legislation set to come in force in the UK by 2018.
The i-Size seats are to be fitted into cars using a system referred to as Isofix, a system whereby metal bar connectors built into the chassis of the car are used to connect the child car seat, making the connection much more secure. Additional security is provided either a support leg which will be built into the seat or a top tether, which will ensure the car seat does not move forward in the event of an accident. All cars manufactured today will be Isofix equipped, however you should bear in mind that not every car comes with Isofix, it was first introduced in 1997 in the Volkswagen Golf IV and more widely introduced from 2004 onwards.
The other significant change we will see as a result of i-Size car seats, will be that the correct seat will be identified by a child’s height, rather than weight, making it much easier for parents to identify the right seat for their child.
The perfect fit
The importance of fitting a child seat correctly cannot be overstated, with worrying statistics from RoSPA revealing that an estimated two thirds of all child seats are fitted incorrectly. As such an important factor in keeping children safe on the road, parents need to get the right advice and support during their purchase and installation.
Currently legislation in the UK requires the following seats to be fitted:
From birth to fifteen months, with a height of 40 to 80 cm, a rear facing seat should be fitted, with a five point harness.
Aged fifteen months to four years, with a height of 80cm to 105cm, either a rear or forward facing seat can be installed, also with a five point harness.
Aged four plus and with a height of 105cm to 135cm, a forward facing seat with a three point seatbelt should be installed.
Once you have purchased your car seat, especially if this is your first one, it is recommended that you get it fitted by an expert. You can make an appointment with a qualified fitter at your store of purchase who will guide you through the process or alternatively, local council may sometimes run a car seat fitting clinic, so it’s always a good idea to contact your local council for more information and advice.
For additional peace of mind, get to know your car seat really well, study the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and keep them somewhere safe, so you can refer to it should you need to switch the seat to a new vehicle.
When installing a seat for a baby, the ideal position should be in a rear facing position on the back seat, ideally in the middle rear. Once a child is fifteen months old or they can hold their head up on their own, then this can be exchanged for a forward facing seat.
The car’s headrest should not cause interference with the seat when installed, allowing the seat to be flush against the back of the car. The head rest shouldn’t touch the seat and it shouldn’t stop the car seat touching the car fabric.
When the seat has been fitted it should firmly in place and should have minimal movement with plenty of resistance. Before setting off, ensure that the buckle is secure and locked into place, making sure the material part of the belt is touching the car seat frame.
Trust My Garage
If you need additional advice on support in regards to child seats and restraints to ensure you remain safe on the roads, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to advise. Find your local trusted garage by entering your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.
Or, by downloading the free Trust My Garage App, you can find services in your local area at the click of a button. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.
Every parent will know that their child’s safety and security is paramount, especially when they’re in the car. Despite the efforts that parents make to ensure their children are safe, there are some horrifying statistics that show that some just aren’t taking the right precautions when driving their little angels around. According to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, twelve children under the age of 10 are killed or injured as passengers in cars every day, but this can be greatly reduced with the help of our easy-to-follow advice.
5. Drive more slowly
This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but when you’re in a rush it’s sometimes only natural that you’ll put your foot down. No matter how soon you’ve got to be somewhere, or however late you’re running, you should always drive at a safe and legal speed. Increasing your speed might mean you arrive at your destination a few minutes earlier, but the difference between a few miles per hour can mean the difference between life and death.
Remember that the speed limit is the absolute maximum speed you can drive at, and it’s not always necessarily a safe speed to drive at, especially when conditions are challenging.
4. Invest in the right seat
You must be aware of the law that surrounds your child’s safety seat and you must also know when they need to be changed or upgraded. You’re legally required to put your child in a seat until they’re either 135cm or 12-years-old, whichever one comes first, though this is just a guideline, and often it’s safer if you keep them in one for a bit longer.
Infants must be sat in a rear-facing seat, and it’s always far safer if they’re put in the back of the car. You can have your rear-facing seat in the passenger side of the car but only if there’s no active frontal airbag.
The reason that these seats are rear-facing is because they provide greater protection for the baby’s head, neck and spine than forward-facing seats. Adult seatbelts aren’t designed for children because they don’t sit on the right parts of the body, so never just presume that it’s safe for your child to have a seatbelt on. Holding a small baby in a car crash at 30mph would be like trying to lift eight bags of cement at the same time, so make sure they’re properly strapped up, even if you’re embarking on a short journey, which is when most accidents occur.
Once a child reaches the age of nine months they can be seated in a forward-facing child seat with an integral harness; the large part of harness will help to reduce the risk of injury if the car crashes, while the bottom attachment helps prevent the child from slipping out of the seat.
Only move your child into a booster seat once they weigh between 15 – 25 kgs (33 – 55 lbs) or roughly 4 to 6 years, and a booster cushion once they weigh between 22 – 36 kgs (48 – 79 lbs) or are between 6 and 11 years.
If you have a modern car it will probably have “Isofix” mounting points for a child seat. This is a significantly better method of attaching a child seat than the vehicle’s seatbelts and should always be used where possible. You will need a compatible seat and your local Trust My Garage member will be able to help you select the right model.
You should never buy a second-hand seat for your child because it can be impossible to tell if a seat has been damaged in an accident or dropped. It’s always far safer to invest in a new one, but make sure that it fits your car before you buy it, because not all seats will fit all cars.
3. Get into certain routines
There are a number of routines that you and your child should get in the habit of following, including getting your child to exit the car on the footpath side, rather than the roadside door. It’s so important that you take your child with you whenever you leave the car, even if it’s just for a minute, because whenever your child is out of your sight there is the chance of an accident happening.
You should always keep your car keys stored safely and hidden from your children. We all know how naturally inquisitive children are and if they find a set of keys they might try and emulate you and get in the car and start it up. The best place to store them is somewhere only you can reach. You should also remove your car’s cigarette lighter, if it has one.
2. Carry out regular checks
To help reduce the risk of your car breaking down, and the inevitable problems that can cause, you should carry out regular checks on your vehicle. A simple way of remembering exactly what to check is to follow our POWER acronym, which stands for petrol, oil, water, electrics and rubber (tyres).
You don’t need to be a technician to carry out these simple checks, and once you get into the routine of doing them fortnightly you’ll start following them like clockwork.
For more information, head to our POWER blog which shows you exactly what you should be looking for. Remember, these checks might just be the difference between a safe journey and your child becoming a road accident statistic.
1. Get your car serviced at a Trust My Garage member
While these checks are vital in ensuring your car is safe for both you and your children, there’s absolutely no substitute for getting your vehicle regularly serviced at a trusted local independent garage.
Putting your car in the hands of trained professionals will help ensure problems are detected at an early stage, and will hugely reduce the chances of your car breaking down, which can cause potentially dangerous accidents.
Put you and your child in safe hands. Find a garage you can trust by entering your postcode into our online garage finder.