Drivers could also face civil proceedings if they fail to secure someone else's child
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People ignoring rules concerning the safety of children in vehicles could face fines of up to £500. Updates to the highway code mean drivers also face being hit in the pocket and getting penalty points if the rules are not followed in their vehicle.
Wales Online reports that drivers also risk civil proceedings if they fail to carry someone else's child in accordance with the law. Breaching the rules could also see problems with car insurance cover. Failure to wear a seatbelt yourself also carries a £100 fine, or potentially up to £500 if the case goes to court.
Experts at CarMats.co.uk have urged parents to ensure they are complying with the rules around car seats - and avoid potentially hefty fines. Rules 99 to 102 of The Highway Code state kids must remain in a car seat until they're 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.
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A car seat is ordinarily chosen based on the child’s height or weight.
Height-based: Size seats are chosen based on the height of a child so they are the correct size for the seat. Those under 15 months must be placed in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 15 months and can sit in a forward-facing car seat.
0kg to 10kg - 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 25kg - Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield.
22kg to 36kg - Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield.
1. Car seat not installed correctly or securely
An indicator that the seat isn’t installed correctly is if the seat is loose. If it can be easily moved, it may mean that your seat hasn’t been installed properly or that the car seat isn’t compatible with the car.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s manual that comes the car seat and thoroughly check its fixture in your car every time it is used.
2. Child is wearing bulky clothes
A bulky snug puffer jacket might keep your child from getting cold, but it could also be a safety risk. Addition layers can add extra slack and reduce the effectiveness of the car seat.
You should strap your child in the first, then add a blanket on top after. This ensures that your child is properly strapped in.
3. Adding nonessential toys to the seat
Keeping a young child entertained is no easy task, but attaching a toy to a child's seat can be a safety risk. Unless a toy or accessory came with your seat, or is recommended by the manufacturer, then it shouldn’t be used.
4. Straps are too loose or too tight
If the straps aren’t fitted properly adjusted then the child could be dislodged, resulting in injury, or worse, in the event of a crash. One way to check the straps are fastened correctly is by doing the pinch test.
Simply place your fingers on the harness, where it rests on your child’s collarbone. If the strap material can be pinched together and folded, then this means the harness is too loose. Adjust the strap so the material can no longer be pinched together.
5. Going from rear to forward-facing too soon
In a bid to keep a watchful eye on children, many parents choose to move their babies into a forward-facing seat as soon as they reach the minimum age and weight suitability at nine months or 9kg. As young children are still developing, their neck, head and spine are fragile and, if placed in a forward-facing position too soon, risk injuring these areas.
Children should remain in a rear-facing seat until they reach 13kg in weight, or 15 months old in an i-Size seat.
6. Forgetting to adjust the strap height when your child grows
As children grow taller, so should the height of the harness strap. If the strap height doesn’t match your child’s height, then it can increase the amount your child’s body can move during a crash. It also increases the risk of injury.
Parents should monitor the harness strap height according to their child’s shoulders. In rear-facing seats, the straps should come through the car seat slots below or at the same level as their shoulders. Whereas on forward-facing seats, the straps should be above or at the same level as the shoulders.
7. Moving to a booster seat too soon
Only when a child is mature enough and reaches the height and weight limit of a car seat should they move on to sit in a booster seat. Booster seats will come with weight and height limits and all vary based on the manufacturer’s instructions, however, there is also a maturity requirement to sit in a booster seat.
The general rule is that children over four can ride in a booster seat, however, this is on a case-by-case basis. Even when your child reaches that age, if they can’t stay still in their seat, it may be worth keeping them in a child seat for longer.
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