New car seat laws come into force
A leading legal expert is urging parents to make sure they are up to speed with new child car seat laws that come into force next week.
Philip Edwards, a personal injury partner at the Birmingham office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, says with only days to go until the new laws come take effect, parents need to make sure they are familiar with the changes or run the risk of an on the spot penalty or hefty fine.
Car seat laws
Car seat laws coming into force on Monday 18 September, the law requires drivers to ensure all children under 135cms (4' 5") or age 12, whichever they reach first, use an appropriate car restraint when travelling in their vehicle.
Mr Edwards said: Recent research has revealed that two thirds of mothers are aware of the new child car seat regulations which could mean as of next week many parents could be breaking the law without even realising it.
The new car seat laws mean drivers must ensure all children under three are put in the correct baby or child seat, with no exceptions other than in taxis. Failure to comply with this could result in an on the spot fine of £30 for the driver or a maximum fine of £500 if convicted in court.
The new measures are designed to cut the annual toll of more than 7,000 child deaths and injuries in car accidents, potentially saving up to 2,000 child casualties per year.
Mr Edwards added: Parents should be aware of how many children are injured every year as a result of no booster seats or safety restraints and should not look on the new laws as yet another piece of onerous legislation but as a potential lifesaver. Simply equipping their cars with the right safety equipment will help to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities sustained on our roads.
Under the terms of the new safety regulations, special exemptions exist for people who might be carrying children in their car at short notice, such as neighbours taking another family's children to school. Also, children travelling in seats which have only a lap belt do not need to use a booster because that in itself could create a safety risk.
Road Safety Minister comments on new car seat laws
Commenting on the new legislation, Road Safety Minister Stephen Ladyman, said: "I would urge all parents to check they are using appropriate child seats or booster seats. Using the right seat for the size of the child will give parents peace of mind and help to ensure children are as safe as possible in the vehicle at all times.
"Most people do use some kind of child restraint but it is very important to use the right one for the size of the child and to take the time to fit it properly; and not to use an adult belt before the child is big enough."
Parents can obtain expert child car seat safety advice from in store experts at a number of retailers. Many have been supporting the Department for Transport's THINK! road safety campaign and the change in the law by providing special offers on car seats and booster seats from July to September 2006.
Parents unsure whether their children must use a child restraint or booster seat should consider:
- Check the height of your child. Children up to 135cm in height (and under 12 years old), need to use a child seat, booster seat or booster cushion suitable for their weight.
- Before purchasing or use any child restraint, look at the label to ensure it is suitable for the child's weight.
- Check that any restraint is securely fitted. If a child travels in more than one vehicle, try out the car seat or restraint in each car so it can be moved between them each time they travel.
- Seek expert advice. Lots of retailers have trained in-store experts who can advise on the best kind of car seat for a child and can provide fitting instructions.