By Beth, Jess, Emma, Katherine
This March, a new law was passed relating to safe travel for children. Booster seats are a familiar necessity to many young children in the United Kingdom, however new restrictions have meant that many children who would not normally need a booster seat find themselves in confusion about whether they need to use one and how the new law will affect them.
The previous booster seat law stated that children as young as the age of three, or being over the weight of 15kg, were able to use Backless Booster seats, however now it is to be at least 125cm tall to use these seats. Due to the new law, the government are now recommending that children between the weight of 15kg to the weight of 36kg use high-backed booster seats because they have been proven to be more protective during and after the occasion of a car accident.
There are some exceptions to the new restrictions, as children with disabilities are able to receive an exemption certificate if they are unable to use a seat belt or a restraint due to their specific condition, however if there are no problems regarding the use of a seat belt or a restraint, the new law also applies to children with disabilities due to the safety precautions in place.
In the case of an unexpected journey where a child's booster seat is not accessible, the rules can be relaxed and the child can travel without a booster seat. Other circumstances where an infant can sit on a regular seat are during a short distance journey, although it is advised that a booster seat should always be used to the government's recommendations. Moreover, it is more suitable if only a child aged over three travels in a normal seat on rare occasions, as it is uncomfortable and even more unsafe for a child under three to travel without any special adjustments tailored to size. Another instance where children are not required to use booster seats is in minibuses and coach companies are not required to provide booster seats for children, so you must provide your own if you want your child to use one during the journey. In a mini bus, it is obligatory that all children travel in the rear seats behind the driver unless a child car seat or an adult seat is fitted; however, in the case of only a child booster seat available, children aged 3 and over still must use it and the same rules apply for an adult seat belt (if there is no booster seat available). The law for the use of car seats is the same regarding coaches.
Concerning the use of height based seats, only the seats that are EU-approved can be used in the UK. These seats have a capital letter 'E' and 'R129' on a label. These seats are also known as 'I-Size' seats and the new law that has been enforced now implies that children under the age of 15 months now have to use a rear facing child car seat.
Before the new law was passed, many students claimed that they had stopped using a booster seat from a very early age and were not biding by the previous laws. This could have been one of the main reasons why the government have decided to pass this new law. Furthermore, a larger number of pupils were unaware that there was a new law passed or what the regulations used to be. This demonstrates that parents and children do not know about the new guidelines and for this reason it is clear that the government will need to use more posters or advertisements to encourage people to abide by these laws in the future.
In conclusion, the new booster seat law is more suitable to modern day life, and it reflects the current attitudes to safe driving in the best interest of safety. It needs to be enforced more actively for optimal response to make sure that children are safe