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Booster seat rules change 1 March: Avoid a fine

Published 21 February 2017 by

We’re sure you want to be as safe as you can when you’re in your car – especially if you’re driving with children. Because of this, you’re probably already aware that children should use a car seat until they’re aged 12 or 135 centimetres tall.

And now the rules around car seats are set to change, meaning certain styles won’t be on sale anymore. Don’t worry – if you’ve already got a car seat, you won’t need to get a new one and the model you currently have shouldn’t be illegal: these rules are just for new car seats. But if you’re due to buy a new seat, let’s take a look at what you need to know about the car seat rules.

What’s changing?

The regulations affect the backless booster seats that attach to standard car seats. Under the new rules, children’s car seat manufacturers will only be able to make backless seats for children over 125cm or who weigh more than 22kg. Any child under this size or weight will need a baby carrier, baby seat or high-backed booster seat, depending on their size.

If your child needs a full booster or child seat, you have a few different options you can get for them – check out the table below to see what they are.

Child’s weight

Suitable seat options

0kg to 9kg

Lie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness

0kg to 13kg

Rear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using a harness

9kg to 18kg

Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield

15kg to 36kg

Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

All child car seats must be EU regulated – otherwise you shouldn’t buy them. You can see this as they’ll have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and the ‘ECE R44’ mark.

How much is the fine?

It’s important that if you’re buying a new car seat, you must follow the rules. If you don’t and the police stop you, they could give you an on-the-spot fine of £30 if they think that any of your passengers are unsafe. And if the case goes to court, the fine could be as much as £500.

Remember, these rules only relate to new car seats, not existing ones. So if you’ve got a car seat and the new rules say it shouldn’t be on sale anymore, you don’t have to throw it out and buy a new one. Just make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules before you buy another seat.

What else do you need to do?

You also need to make sure you properly secure all car seats in place. It’s not worth having the right seat but not attaching it to the car chair correctly – the police could still stop you.

And you should be wary when you’re buying a second-hand seat, according to Road Safety Wales. That’s because you can’t be sure it’s not been in a crash and damaged internally – you might not be able to see anything wrong but it still might not protect your child properly.

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