Carrying Other People`s Children Safely
Useful Links
Carrying Other People’s Children Safely
Advice about child car seats and seat belts for anyone who
transports other people’s children in a car, taxi, coach or bus
sample no: MS303
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Edgbaston Park, 353 Bristol Road, Birmingham B5 7ST
Telephone: 0870 777 2171/0121 248 2000
Fax: 0870 777 2199/0121 248 2001
Registered Charity No. 207823
VAT Registration No. 655 1316 49
Produced with the support of the Department of Transport
Duty of Care
Any organisation or individual who carries other
people’s children has a legal duty to ensure they
carry them safely.
Every year around 25 children under 12 years old
are killed and 8,000 injured while travelling in
cars in Great Britain. Many of these deaths and
injuries can be prevented if children travel in
baby seats, child seats or booster seats that are
suitable for their size and weight, suitable for
the car and are securely fitted.
Seat belts on their own are less effective for
children because they are primarily designed for
adults. In a crash, a child may slide under an
adult belt because the lap strap is too high over
their abdomen, or it could cause serious
internal injuries.
As part of its health and safety system, any
organisation that transports children must
ensure its drivers are fit and competent, vehicles
are safe and suitable, passengers are carried
safely, and journeys are properly planned. Advice
on these issues is available from
This leaflet gives advice on using child car seats
and seat belts, which is relevant to parents
sharing the school run as well as organisations
providing a transport service.
Duty of Care
Providing Child Restraints
Organisations or individuals who carry other
people’s children in cars, vans and other goods
vehicles must make sure they provide
appropriate child restraints (See “Using the Right
Restraint”) for each child carried until s/he is able
to use an adult seat belt on its own. Child
restraints are rearward facing baby seats,
forward facing child seats, booster seats and
booster cushions. Different rules apply in
buses/coaches - see ‘other vehicles’.
Staff need to be trained to assess that the child
restraints provided are appropriate for the child
and the vehicle, and to fit them, or at least check
they are correctly fitted.
Organisations should declare in writing to their
insurers that they carry children in their vehicles,
and keep a copy of relevant paperwork with their
insurance documents.
Some child seat manufacturers and retailers
provide training and/or will check seats (See
Useful Links).
Using Taxis, Buses and Coaches
If you do not normally carry children, but know
that, on occasion, you may need to do so at short
notice, consider how you can make
arrangements to have access to child restraints
in such situations.
If you use other people’s child restraints, get
them to talk you through the manufacturer’s
instructions whilst showing you how to fit
the seat first, so that you are sure you can
fit it correctly.
The Road Safety Unit of the Local Authority or
Police Force may be able to offer such training or
a seat checking service, or recommend other
training providers. Many also run Child Seat
Check days at local venues, such as
Safety measures also need to be considered
when hiring taxis, private hire vehicles, minicabs,
minibuses, buses or coaches (See Other Vehicles).
Child Seat and Seat Belt Laws
Child Seat and Seat Belt Laws
From 18th September 2006, the law requires all children in cars, vans and other goods vehicles to be
carried in an appropriate child restraint from birth until either they are 135 cms (4’ 5”) tall or have
reached the age of 12 years (whichever comes first) with very few exceptions. They must then use a
seat belt (although it would be preferable to use a booster seat or booster cushion until they are
150 cm (5’) tall).
Children under 3 years
Must use an appropriate child restraint when
travelling in the front or rear of a vehicle. They
cannot be carried in a car that does not have
seat belts because it will not be possible to fit a
child restraint in such vehicles.
Unexpected Necessity
If an appropriate child restraint is not available,
children over 3 years old may travel in the rear
using an adult seat belt. This exception is for
emergencies and unplanned situations. For
example, when someone has to carry a child due
to an “unexpected necessity” over a short
distance, and where not carrying the child
(because a child restraint is not available) might
leave him or her at risk. It does not apply to trips
that could have reasonably been planned (e.g., a
school run), nor to ‘long’ journeys or to children
under 3 years old.
Children aged 3 years to 1.35m
in height (approx 4’5”) and who are also
under 12 years old
When three child restraints cannot be fitted in
the rear
Must use an appropriate child restraint when
travelling in the front seat of a car, van or other
goods vehicle and when travelling in the rear if
seat belts are fitted.
If it is not possible to fit three child restraints in
the rear of a car, then two children up to 135 cms
in height must travel in child seats and the third
child may use an adult seat belt on its own. This
exemption does not apply to children under 3
years old.
Children aged 12 years and over (or younger
children over 1.35m tall)
Must wear a seat belt if fitted in the front or
rear of a car, van or other goods vehicle.
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that
children under 14 years old use an appropriate
child restraint or wear their seat belt.
It may be better for the third child to sit in a
child restraint in the front rather than use the
adult seat belt in the rear. If there is an active
passenger airbag, check with the vehicle
manufacturer or the handbook about using a
child restraint in the front. If you do, move the
front seat as far back as possible on its runners.
A rearward facing baby seat must not be used in
the front if there is an active front airbag.
Licensed Taxis (including private hire vehicles
and minicabs)
If a child restraint is not available, children under
3 years must travel in the rear, but may be
unrestrained. Children 3 years and over, up to
135 cms tall must sit in the rear and use an adult
seat belt. Children aged 12 years or more, or over
135 cms tall, may travel the front, but must wear
the seat belt. (See Other Vehicles).
Emergency Vehicles
Children may be carried in vehicles being used
by the police or other emergency services, if
appropriate child restraints are not available.
Using the Right Child Restraint
Contact child seat manufacturers to check what
seats they recommend for the vehicle(s) you are
Child restraints must be:
• Suitable for the child
• Suitable for the vehicle
• In a safe condition
Young Children
Babies must be carried in rearward-facing baby
seats. They are designed for babies up to 13 kgs
(29 lbs) in weight. It is best to keep babies
rearward facing for as long as possible because
this provides much better protection for their
head, neck and spine. They should only be put in
a forward-facing seat when they have exceeded
the maximum weight for the baby seat and can
sit up unaided or the top of their head is higher
than the top of the baby seat.
It is dangerous and illegal to place a rearwardfacing baby seat in the front if there is an active
frontal passenger airbag because the airbag
would strike the baby seat with considerable
force if it went off.
Ask your local Road Safety Unit if they have an
advice, checking or fitting service.
Use for further advice
and information.
Choosing Child Restraints
Don't rush the decision. Look through
manufacturers’ catalogues and websites or in
shops to assess a range of seats. Find a retailer
who will let you ‘Try Before You Buy’. Ask if they
have trained staff and check that one will be
available before you visit the store. Good retailers
will check whether a restraint is suitable for the
car or cars in which it will be used, will
demonstrate how to fit it and will allow you to
try to fit it yourself.
Suitable for the Child
Child restraints are designed for specific weight
ranges of children. These broadly match different
age groups, but it is the weight that is most
important. Many can be converted as the child
grows and so fit into more than one group. Note
that manufacturers may use names different to
those mentioned below.
Approx Age
Rearward-facing baby seat
Group 0 up to 10 kgs (22 lbs)1
Group 0+ up to 13kg (29lbs)
birth to 6-9 months
birth to 12-15 months
Combination seat
Group 0+ to 1
0-18 kgs (20-40 lbs)
birth - 4 years
Forward-facing child seat
Group 1
9-18 kgs (20-40 lbs)
9 months - 4 years
Booster Seat2
Group 2
15 - 25 kgs (33 - 55 lbs)
4 to 6 years
Booster Seat
Group 2 and 3
15 - 36 kgs (33 - 79 lbs)
4 to 11 years
Booster Seat
Group 1, 2 and 3
9 - 36 kgs (20 - 79 lbs)
9 months to 11 years
Booster Cushion2
Group 3
22 - 36 kgs (48 - 79 lbs)
6 - 11 years
1 Group 0 (0 – 10 kg) baby seats are no longer produced.
2 Booster seats that only fit into Group 2 or only into Group 3 are no longer produced. All now fit into either Group 2 and 3 (15 – 36 kg)
or Groups 1 to 3 (9 – 36 kg).
Using the Right Child Restraint
Children weighing 9 - 18 kgs (20 - 40 lbs), roughly
from 9 months to 4 years, should travel in a
forward-facing child seat. They have an integral
5-point harness which should include a 'crotch
strap' to prevent the child from sliding out feet
first in an accident. The top of the harness
should be at shoulder height and it should only
be possible to fit two fingers between the
harness and the child’s chest. It is important to
check the harness every time it is used. Keep
children in this type of seat until they are too
heavy for it.
Using the Right Child Restraint
Using the Right Child Restraint
Older Children
Suitable for the car
Children over 135 cms tall or aged 12
years and above.
A child who is 135 cms tall or who is 12 years or
older, can travel using the seat belt on its own. It
is better for children to continue to use a booster
seat until they are 150 cms tall.
If a child is heavier than the maximum weight
(36kg) for a booster seat, but not yet tall enough
to use to use an adult seat belt on its own, it is
better to keep them in the booster seat or
cushion until they have reached 135 cms
in height.
Booster seats and booster cushions are for
children from 15 kgs (33 lbs) to either 25 Kgs (55
lbs) or 36 kgs (79 lbs). Some start from 9 kgs
(20 lbs).
They are mainly designed to raise children so
that the adult seat belt fits them properly, but
many also provide protection from side impact.
The adult seat belt goes around the child and
the seat (some have an integral harness for
younger children). The lap belt must go under
the arms of the seat and as low as possible over
the child’s pelvis, not up over their tummy. The
diagonal strap should rest over the shoulder, not
the neck. Many have an adjustable clip to help
position the belt on the shoulder.
Booster seats have a high back, which can be
removed on many models to convert it into a
booster cushion when the child is big enough.
Whether a child restraint can be fitted in a
particular car will depend on the shape and
length of the car’s seats, the position of the seat
belt buckles and the size and shape of the child
restraint. It is essential to make sure that any
child restraint being used can be properly fitted
in the car(s) in which it is used. An incorrectly
fitted seat will not provide the protection it
should do and may even cause injuries.
One of the most common mistakes is to leave
the child seat too loose. Make sure that it has
been fitted according to the manufacturer's
instructions and that it does not move about
when pulled by hand. If it has a device to prevent
the seat belt slipping once it has been tightened,
make sure this is in the locked position.
Remember, always try out a child seat in your car
before purchasing it.
ISOFix is intended to make fitting child seats into
cars quick and simple. All new cars have ISOFix
points installed when they are manufactured.
Child car restraints that have ISOFix attachments
can be plugged into them.
However, check that the ISOFix child seat will fit
the vehicle(s) in which it is being used. Ask
whether an additional top tether on the seat is
needed. Some seats have a ‘foot’ that extends to
the vehicle floor, in which case check it does not
rest on the cover of an underfloor compartment.
Using the Right Child Restraint
Other Vehicles
Safe Condition
recommendations or about every five years.
If they are not used regularly, store them out of
direct sunlight and where they are not likely to
suffer accidental damage.
The law does not require child restraints to be
provided in taxis, private hire vehicles, minicabs,
minibuses, buses or coaches, although they must
be used if available.
Child car seats and adult seat belts that were in
a vehicle involved in a crash should be replaced,
as they may have suffered damage that is not
visible to the naked eye, and would not provide
protection in a second crash. The replacement
cost is normally included as part of any
insurance claim.
Seat belts must be worn, if fitted.
It is also important to check that child car seats
are in a safe condition.
They must conform to the UN ECE R44.03 or
later standard (e.g. R44.04), and display an
"E" mark with the weight range of child for
which it is designed.
Older ones that conform to a British Standard or
to an earlier version of R44 are still in use. From
May 2008, all child restraints in use will legally
have to meet R44.03 or later standards.
Replacing Seats
Child car seats suffer from wear and tear,
especially if they are constantly being put into
and taken out of cars. They should be replaced
according to the manufacturer’s
Beware of a second-hand child restraint as it
may not be possible to be certain of its history. It
may have been involved in an accident and have
hidden damage. It is likely that the instructions
will be missing. Second-hand seats are also likely
to be older, to have suffered more wear and
tear and may not be designed to current
safety standards.
Taxis (including private hire vehicles and
When booking a taxi, make sure it has seat belts
and ask whether a child restraint can be
provided or whether you can use your own.
Organisations that use taxis regularly should
provide their own child restraints if necessary.
Some black cabs have an integral booster
cushion in the rear for older children.
If the seat belts cannot be used (because the
buckle is hidden under the seat, for example) ask
the driver to fix it. If it cannot be fixed, do not
use the vehicle – ask for a replacement.
If child restraints are not available, then children
under 3 years may travel unrestrained in the rear
and those 3 years to 135 cms in height must use
an adult belt in the rear seat.
Children may travel in the front if they use the
correct child seat/booster. The driver is
responsible in law for making sure that children
under 14 years use seatbelts or child
seats/boosters as required.
Minibuses, Buses and Coaches
In small buses, up to 2,540 kg unladen weight
(these are usually minibuses), children over 3
years old must wear seat belts, or use child
restraints, if available.
On larger buses and coaches, all seated
passengers aged 14 years and above must wear
seat belts if they are fitted. The driver (or a
conductor or similar person) must notify
passengers when they board that they have to
wear their belts and/or signs must be displayed
at every seat. Regulations to require children
aged 3 years to 13 years to use seat belts will
follow as soon as possible.
Operators are not required to provide child
restraints, but if they are available and if they
can be fitted properly, they must be used.
When booking a minibus, bus or coach, make
sure it has seat belts and ask whether child
restraints can be provided or whether you can
use your own. But be aware that it may not be
possible to fit them properly because the seats
and seat belts are different from cars. In some of
these vehicles it is possible to adjust the height
of the seat belt so that they fit child
passengers better.
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