Ignore kids' car seat rules and risk £500 fine and penalty points - Wales Online

2022-06-07 07:12:07 By : Ms. Fanny Lin

Youngsters must remain in a car seat until they're 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first

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Drivers with children in their vehicles who ignore safety rules could land themselves with fines of up to £500. The updated Highway Code guidance for children's safety could also see drivers getting penalty points if breached.

Failing to wear a seatbelt yourself is an automatic £100 fine. However if the case goes to court, you could face a fine of up to £500.

You could also face civil proceedings for damages, if (for example) you failed to safely carry someone else's child, reports North Wales Live. And, in addition to the legal penalties, breaking these rules could affect any claims against your motor insurance cover.

Experts at CarMats.co.uk have urged parents to keep making their children a priority, which will avoid hefty fines by ensuring they follow the driving laws surrounding child car seats. Under rules 99 to 102 of The Highway Code, youngsters must remain in a car seat until they're 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.

A car seat can either be chosen based on the child’s height or weight. Here we take a look at the parameters:

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.

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

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

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

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

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 your seat isn’t installed correctly is if the seat is considerably loose. If it can be moved with ease, it may mean that your seat hasn’t been installed properly or that the car seat isn’t compatible with the car.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s manual that comes with your car seat and thoroughly check its fixture in your car every time it is used.

2. Child is wearing bulky clothes

That snug puffer jacket might keep your child from getting cold, but it could also be a safety risk. The added layers can add extra slack and reduce the defence of the car seat.

Instead, you should strap your child in the seat first, then, for added warmth, 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.

Toys when detached from the seat can become a flight risk and cause a distraction while you’re driving.

4. Straps are too loose or too tight

Your seat could be installed perfectly, but if the straps aren’t properly adjusted then your child could be dislodged from the seat, 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 vulnerable areas.

Youngsters 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

Adjusting the harness strap height is not a one-time job - as children grow, 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.