A quick guide to the law
The law applies to cars, vans and other goods vehicles.
Child under three years
You must always use a child restraint appropriate for
the child's age, height and weight whether the child
is travelling in the front or rear of the vehicle. If an
appropriate restraint is not available, it is illegal for
a child to travel in the vehicle. The only exception is
in a taxi if the correct child restraint is not available.
how safe is your
child in the car?
Child aged 3 –11, but less than 135cm in height
You must use an appropriate child restraint for the
child's age, height and weight in the front seat and,
if seat belts are fitted, in the rear seat. The only
exceptions to this are where the correct child
restraint is not available in the following situations:
Accidents can and do happen when reversing on
driveways or in car parks. Look out for children
when manoeuvrering your car.
Make sure your child is either in the car or
with an adult before you move the car.
in a taxi where the correct child restraint
is not available
for reason of unexpected necessity over a
short distance
two occupied child restraints prevent a third
from being fitted.
Teach young children that cars can be dangerous
even when they are moving very slowly.
In these cases an adult seat belt must be used.
Hold your toddler’s hand in car parks just as
you would when crossing the road. Remember
other cars manoeuvring may not be able to
spot children who are below the level visible
from their rear or side windows.
Child over 135cm, or 12 years and over
An adult seat belt must be worn if fitted.
Keep your car keys out of sight and reach of
young children so that they don’t get hold of
them and try to start the car. Make sure the
hand brake is firmly on.
Be careful that your child’s fingers are not caught
in windows or doors when they are getting in or out
of the car. Teach small children to keep their arms
well tucked in when you close the doors and do not
let them play with windows. Disengage electric
window switches in the back if your car allows it
and make sure the child door locks are activated.
Further information about choosing
a child car seat can be obtained
capt is a charity committed
to reducing childhood injury.
Unit J106 The Biscuit Factory
Tower Bridge Business Complex
100 Clements Road
London SE16 4DG
e [email protected] w
registered charity number 1053549
© Child Accident Prevention Trust 2002
LEA015 revised and reprinted December 2015
car seat images courtesy of Britax®
Safety in and around cars
a safety guide for parents and carers
By following the safety advice in this
leaflet you can help to prevent your
child from being seriously injured
or even dying in a car accident.
A quick guide to child car seats
Understanding car seats
Group (0-III) is based on the weight and physical
development of the child. Age ranges are given too
but these are for guidance only.
The i-Size classification will run alongside seats
classified by group until at least 2018.
It is safest for babies to travel rear-facing for as long
as possible. Don’t be tempted to move a baby to a
forward-facing seat just because their feet are
pressing against the seat back. Wait until they reach
the weight limit for the child car seat or the top of
their head is at the top of the child car seat.
Rear-facing seats are either Group 0+ (Group 0 seats
are not now readily available) or i-Size. With i-Size
seats, babies stay rear-facing until they are at least
15 months old.
Always travel with your baby on the back seat if you
can. If it is essential for them to be in the front seat
the passenger airbag MUST be switched off,
otherwise it will harm your baby if it activates against
the rear-facing seat in a crash.
Remember, child car seats are not intended to be
places for babies to sleep when not travelling. Move
them to a moses basket or cot as soon as you can.
type of seat
baby seat
child seat
When buying a child car seat, you will now see two
different classifications:
i-Size is based on the child’s height rather than
weight. i-Size seats all offer side impact protection.
They fit all i-Size ready cars and some ISOFIX cars,
using ISOFIX anchor points. But not all i-Size seats fit
all ISOFIX cars so we advise you to check if the seat
is approved for your car before buying.
Based on a child’s height.
Rear-facing i-Size Use until at least 15 months.
booster seat
weight of child approx age
up to 13kg
birth to
12-15 months
9 months (stable
when sitting)
to 3-4 years
II and
from 3-4 years
* Group 0 seats are not now readily available.
Toddlers and young children
Buying your baby or child car seat
When your baby has outgrown their baby seat they can
be moved to a child seat with a built-in harness. These
seats are mostly forward-facing. Some rear-facing
seats are now available. The group to look for is Group I.
Forward-facing i-Size seats will come onto the market.
Buying second-hand seats is not recommended.
They may have been damaged in an accident, but you
won’t necessarily be able to tell by looking at them.
If you do use a second-hand seat, try to make sure
you know its history, have the manufacturer’s
instructions and check that there is no damage
and no parts are missing.
It is safest to keep your child in a car seat with an
integral harness for as long as possible. Only move your
child from a child car seat to a booster seat when their
eye line is above the child seat back or the weight limit
is reached.
Toddlers and young children are safest if they travel
in the back seat.
Older children
Many booster seats ‘grow’ upwards and outwards
with your child. Booster seats in group II and III are
suitable for children from 15kg to 36kg. They can
provide side protection and support. i-Size booster
seats will become available. All will offer side impact
Remember that seat belts are designed for adults,
not children. To keep safe, older children should use
a seat belt with a booster seat. Booster cushions are
better than nothing at all, but a high backed booster
seat offers the best protection for your child.
Not every seat will fit properly in every car. Try the
seat in your car before you buy it, or check the returns
policy. Make sure it can be fitted exactly to the
manufacturer’s instructions. The seat should be
secure. If it wobbles it is either wrongly fitted or not
suitable for your car. If your car has ISOFIX
attachments, consider buying an ISOFIX seat.
Do not choose a seat that is difficult to fit. If it is
awkward it may be tempting not to bother with it on
short journeys. It is vital that you use your child car
seat on every journey – most accidents happen
within a short distance of home.
Make sure the seat you buy fits in the back – it is
safer for your child to travel in the back seat of the
car if possible.
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