Q U E S T I O N S & A N S W E R S
N e e d H e l p ? J u s t A s k .
Whether you are a parent or a carer, it’s extremely important that you understand the legal requirements regarding carrying children in cars.
With few exceptions, all children under 12 years old and under 135cm in height must use an appropriate child car seat or child restraint that’s suitable for their weight and size.
The law allows a special exception for children over three years of age on an occasional, short distance journey (e.g. unforeseen emergency). The child must then use an adult belt and sit in the rear, however this exemption is not for short journeys such as the regular school run. The only exception for children under three is when the travel in the rear of taxis and a child seat is not available.
What is an appropriate child restraint?
There are many different types available, which can make it confusing, however they are divided into categories according to the weight of the children for whom they are suitable. These may correspond very broadly to different age groups, but it is the weight of the child, not the age, that is most important when deciding what type of child car seat or restraint to use. i-Size seats are designed to keep children rearward facing until they are at least 15months old.
*Changes to the law about booster cushions
The regulations concerning booster cushions are being reviewed and may change so that booster cushions will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg (Group 3). No date for this change has been made, but it is expected to be around December 2016. If this change goes ahead it will only apply to newly sold booster cushions and will not affect booster cushions already in use.
It is very important to ensure that your child’s car seat restraint:
• Conforms to the current United Nations standard, ECE R44/04 or to the new i-Size regulation, R129. (Look for the orange ‘E’ mark label on your child’s car seat to check that is conforms to one of these).
• Is suitable for your child’s weight and size. ECE R44.04 child seats are based on weight with an age recommendation, whereas R129 (i-Size) seats are based on height.
• Is correctly fitted to the manufacturer’s instructions.
What does ECE R44/04 mean?
• Guarantees that the car seat compiles with the current European safety standard
• Group classification by child’s bodyweight
• Forward-facing installation from 9kg
• Valid for car seatbelt and ISOFIX
What is i-Size (Regulation 129)?
• Guarantees that the car seat compiles with the newest European safety standard
• i-Size (R129) includes side impact testing
• Classification by child’s height
• Rear-facing installations up to 15 months
• Only valid for ISOFIX
• i-Size seats will fit any i-Size approved vehicle.
Do I need to change my child’s car seat to i-Size?
If your child’s current car seat conforms to United Nations standard, ECE R44/04 you do not need to buy an i-Size (R129) car seat. The current ECE R44/04 will run alongside R129 for a while and is not expected to be phrased out for several years.
i-Size car seats cannot be attached using the car seat belt, so if you do not have ISOFIX points in your car or the model is not approved for i-Size you will not be able to use on with your current car anyway.
Why do we need a new i-Size regulation?
i-Size will help parents choose the right seat more easily by classifying seats by the child’s length/ height rather than their weight. Parents generally know how tall their child is more than they know their exact weight. The i-Size, Regulation 129 states that the child must travel rear-facing for up to a minimum of 15 months old.
i-Size is designed to provide children with additional protection and safety in the car. The key difference from the existing ECE R44/04 legislation is increased support for the child’s head and neck and better protection in the event of both frontal and side-impact crashes. The seat’s 5-point harness ensures the child stays in the seat even in a rollover accident.
i-Size car seats will fit every i-Size approved vehicle and cars will need to be i-Size compliant to achieve the maximum Euro NCAP rating.
Child car seats and airbags
Many cars have multiple airbags, which are designed to provide extra protection in a crash in addition to seat belts. However, they inflate rapidly and with considerable force, so if a child is too close it can cause catastrophic injury or even death.
Remember to follow these tips to ensure your child’s maximum protection even if there are no active airbags present.
• Make sure that children travel in the rear of the car, if possible, where it is safer.
• Do not put a forward-facing child seat in the front seat, unless there is no other choice. If you do so, make sure the car seat is as far back as possible from the dashboard. Ask the vehicle manufacturer how far the airbag comes out and if it is safe to use a child car seat.
• Never place a baby in a rear-facing seat in the front seat with and active air bag.
• Make sure the child seat is fitted properly and that your child is using it correctly. Try to prevent the child seat leaning in too close to, or against the door or window.
Replacing child’s car seat after accidents
Ideally, a child car seat that was involved in an accident should be replaced, even if there is no visible damage as it may have weakened to such an extent that it will not provide the same level of protection in another accident.
However it is very difficult to judge how severe an impact needs to be to damage a child car seat. It may not be necessary to replace the child seat if:
• It was a very low speed impact
• There was no, or very little damage to the car
• There was no child in the car seat when the impact occurred.
If in any doubt it is better to consider replacing the car seat as the best option. If your insurance company is reluctant to agree to replace the seat, this letter may help.
For more information please visit: http://www.childcarseats.org.uk/the-law/