Car seat safety

The law states that:

  • Children under three years must use a child seat or booster appropriate for their weight in all vehicles (including vans and other goods vehicles)
  • Children between three and twelve years, or children under 1.35 metres in height (4 feet 5 inches) must use the appropriate child restraint in all vehicles fitted with seat belts
  • Children over 1.35 metres in height, or who are 12 or 13 must wear seat belts in the front and rear seat.

It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that children under 14 years are correctly restrained. The responsibility moves to the individual passenger when over 14 years of age.

Find out more about the different types of car seats

How can I keep your child safe

  • Ensure that the correct type of car seat is being used
  • Make sure your child's car seat is properly fitted every time you use it
  • Always keep a copy of the fitting instructions in your car.
  • Always make sure that your child's car seat belt is properly adjusted and fastened before setting off in the car, even on the shortest of journeys.
  • Remember to always set a good example by fastening your own belt. Injuries to children can be significantly reduced if you use a suitable child car restraint.

What we recommend

  • You buy a child car restraint from a reputable retailer that has a fully trained fitter.
  • A properly installed restraint must fit tightly into the adult seat with minimum movement.
  • The seat belt buckle should not rest on the restraint frame (known as "buckle crunching").
  • The harness should be "two finger" tight to the baby.
  • Never put a rearward facing child car seat in the front if an active airbag is fitted.

Buying second hand

If you choose to buy a second hard car seat ensure that:

  • Full fitting instructions are available
  • You can guarantee the history of the child car restraint you are buying
  • Never buy a child car restraint that has been involved in a collision.

Free child car seat checking service

Every year, we run events whereby parents and carers in the county borough can come along and have their child's car seats checked for safety. Experts are on hand to offer help and advice on choosing and securing the correct equipment for both the child and the vehicle.

At the latest event, an astonishing 72% of seats checked were found to be incorrect, with almost 40% having major faults, rendering the seat potentially dangerous to use.

The main problems identified included:

  • Seats were incompatible with the make and model of car, meaning they were unable to be fitted securely.
  • Seats were unsuitable for the size and weight of the child.
  • Loose fitting of seats in vehicles, often permitting excess movement.
  • Twisting of straps of the child harness, which in the event of a crash could result in severe lacerations to the child.
  • Incorrect fitting of the seat into the car to such an extent that the child would be offered little or no protection in the event of a collision.
  • Failure to meet current safety standards in the case of very old seats.

For further information, please contact Trading Standards.

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