It seems that there is a lot of confusion that surrounds the DVLA rules and regulations about child car seating, so much so that 66% of parents to children under the age of twelve are not actually aware of the current car seat laws in England and Wales. Slightly worrying research conducted by motoring experts Confused.com has been brought out as a warning to parents to take car safety for their children seriously. To add insult to injury, freedom of information data obtained by motoring experts from 33 different police forces has also confirmed that 4,464 child seatbelt offences recorded in 2015 alone. Between 2013 and 2015 the number rises to a whopping 19, 358. So what are the rules and are they changing any time soon?
All of these discoveries come just in time for a new law to be introduced which extends the need for booster seats with backs to older children. The new rule will mean that children weighing 22kg and under and under 125 cm in height will require a back on their booster seat. These measurements are average for children aged between six and eight in the UK, which means it is likely we will see older children with backs on their booster seats. However, you would be wrong in thinking that you have to abide by this law immediately as currently, the rule is only applying to car seat manufacturers and if you have a child fitting the criteria you are not currently breaking the law if they are still sitting in a backless booster seat. It is thought that around 56% of parents are still unaware of these new rules that will soon be in place (it could be as early as March 2017).
The current law differs slightly and due to research showing that only 34% of parents know the current rules, it is probably worth mentioning. Currently, a child must have a car seat until they are 12 years old or exceeding a height of 135 centimetres. Children at the moment, are permitted to travel with a booster seat from the age of three (or more than fifteen kilos), according to the measurement restrictions. The fact that the rules are changing has sparked much confusion as it seems that manufacturers must abide by them, yet parents do not need to at the moment. At the same time, it means parents that have recently bought a backless booster seat for their child will not have to throw it away just yet. Of course, the new rules are also met with a lot of criticism, some people questioning whether they are really necessary at all.
The following findings, in the opinion of many, show that new rules are necessary for ensuring a child’s safety. During Confused.com’s research, they questioned parents who had been failing to use booster seats for their children. The excuses were somewhat questionable, with 33% explaining they had switched over to a new car and not transferred the booster seat, 26% playing dumb and claiming they didn’t think their child needed to sit in one, 10% putting it down to being ‘forgetful’ and 25% claiming they were only doing a short trip and didn’t see the need to a booster. In total, there was around 34% of parents that admitted to never using a booster seat for their child and out of this 11% were stopped by police. There are certain exceptions for children over the age of three, such as an unexpected emergency which will be taken into consideration by the police. It is advised that parents make sure that there is a car seat to hand, in the case of an emergency. Another exception to the rule is travelling in a taxi and having no room in the car for an additional child’s booster seat, if the taxi is travelling with more than two children. When the worst has happened, and a parent has had an accident in the car, it has been admitted that 44% of parents did not replace the child’s car seat even though 72% of all parents are aware that a child’s car seat can become weakened and not what it once was, after a crash.
So are the new rules a great safety precaution or just a way of adding more confusion to the already misunderstood rules regarding child car safety?