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Adam Jolley

Parents guilty of breaking child car seat safety laws

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A third of parents admit to having not used a booster seat for their child at one time or another, according to new research.

Mother putting daughter in a car seat

Many parents are failing to understand the importance of using the right booster seat for their offspring, according to new research by Confused.com.

A third say they haven't used a booster seat for their child at some point, while almost a fifth (17%) say they either rarely or never use a booster seat for their child. 

The findings come ahead of new child booster seat laws, expected early next year, which could require older children to use booster seats with backs. 

Changes to the law

Two-thirds (66%) of parents with children under 12 don’t know the current laws surrounding child car seats, the research shows.

Under the current law, people are permitted to use backless booster seats for children weighing more than 15kg – the average weight of a three-year-old child.

Under the new rules, however, which could come in as early as March 2017, booster seats without backs will deemed unsafe for children shorter than 125cm and weighing less than 22kg.

This equates to the average height and weight of children aged between six and eight years old – so it’s likely we’ll see booster seats with backs being used for older kids.

A range of excuses

Of those guilty of using no booster seat, over one in 10 of these were pulled over by the police. Just under three-quarters of these have been fined or prosecuted.

Parents who’ve failed to use a booster seat for their child at one time or another have a range of excuses for not doing so. 

A third said they’d switched over to another car and hadn’t transferred the seat across. Over a quarter claimed ignorance, saying they didn’t think their child needed one. 

And a quarter said it was because they were only making a short trip, while just under one in 10 simply put it down to forgetfulness.

Half unaware of new rules

Of those parents unfortunate enough to have been in an accident while their child was in the car, one in 10 say their child wasn’t in a car seat at the time. 

What’s more, 44% of parents didn’t replace their child’s car seat after the accident. 

This is despite almost three-quarters (72%) of parents being aware that booster seats can be weakened as a result of a crash.

The Confused.com research shows only just over a third (34%) of parents say they know the current rules surrounding child car seats.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, more than half (56%) of parents are unaware of the new regulations, which will only apply to new products on the market, meaning parents who already own and use backless boosters will still be permitted to use them.

'Parents must be aware of the consequences'

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Given parents’ confusion about the current car seat regulations, the new rules about backless booster seats will make it even trickier for parents to understand how to keep their children safe.

“The messaging needs to be simplified so parents are certain which type of seating will provide their children with the best protection.”

Amanda adds: “Parents must also be aware of the potential cost consequences if their child isn’t using the correct seating. If caught by police, they could face a £100 fine.”

Backless booster seat law change

Current law  New law

Under the current law, all children travelling in a vehicle must use the correct car seat for their height, age and weight until they are are either 12 years old or 135cm tall - whichever comes first.

Children weighing under 15kg (2st 4lbs) must use booster seats with backs - children over this weight are permitted to use backless booster seats.

All children travelling will still need to use the correct car seat for their height, age and weight until they are either 12 years old or 135cm tall - whichever comes first.

Under the new rules use of booster seats with backs will be extended for use by taller and heavier children up to 125cm and 22kg (3st 5lbs).

However, the law only applies to new products on the market. It is understood parents who already own and use backless booster seats for their child will still be permitted to use them.

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