Changes to the rules relating to the use of backless booster seats for children are coming into force at the end of 2016.
UK law currently states that children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) tall, whichever comes sooner.
In Ireland and in some European countries such as Germany and France, this height limit is higher at 150 cm (4 ft 11 in).
Children under three must be in a child car seat.
If you don’t have room for a third child seat in the back of your car, children aged three or under can use the front seat but they must be in a child car seat.
You can’t take children under three on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat.
The only exception to this rule is if it’s in a licensed taxi or minicab and the rear seats are separated from the driver by a fixed partition and the child travels on the rear seats.
If you ignore the law you are liable to a fine of £500.
At present, children weighing as little as 15 kg (2 stone 5 lbs) can travel in backless booster seats
Under the new rules, backless booster seats must only be used for children taller than 125 cm (4 ft 1 in) and weighing more than 22 kg (3 stone 6 lbs).
|The rules about using these are changing|
Many child car seat experts feel that this type of seat is unsafe for young children and you can easily see why.
The only security these seats offer is via the adult seat belt and there is no protection for your child if you are involved in a crash sideways on.
You can easily pull a booster seat back and forward even when your child is sitting on it and there is a risk of them sliding forward on the seat.
The problem is that backless booster seats (or booster cushions) can be bought relatively cheaply, costing anywhere from £10 – £30.
If you have more than one car or share the responsibility for driving your children about with other family members (such as grandparents), the costs of multiple car seats can really stack up and it is easy to see why booster cushions are relied on.
They can be thrown in the boot or swopped from one car to another in a matter of minutes.
Car safety experts, however, would prefer us to use high-backed booster seats because they guide the adult seat belt across the child’s body properly and in crash tests carried out by Which?, they were found to offer much more protection in a side-impact crash than a backless booster seat.
These changes to the child car seat regulations are expected to come into effect in December 2016 but will only apply to new products on the market.
If you plan to buy a booster seat next year, you will have to check the height/weight limit on the seat you buy to ensure that it complies with the new rules.
You can still use the booster seats you have already bought but, given the warnings by safety experts, it is worth reviewing the child seats you use to check your family travel is as safe as possible – even if that means investing in new, and potentially safer, child car seats.