RAC Cars News


Navigating The World Of Child Car Seats

By raccars Published

All parents want to keep their children as safe as possible while motoring and one important and expensive component is a child's car seat. This is also a legal requirement until the child reaches the age of 12 or 135cm in height, so no matter how carefully you choose a child seat, it will still need to be replaced every few years, to keep up with the child's growth.

The driver of any car is the person legally responsible for ensuring that the law is followed regarding car set legislation. Fines for not complying with the law in this area start with the £30 on-the-spot variety and can go up to £500. This applies to passengers up to the age of 14, after which the passenger is considered responsible for their own safety and equally for their own fine. Current law states that children must be placed in an appropriate seat for their size and weight and airbags must be de-activated for rear-facing baby seats being used in the front passenger seat. Over the age of 12 or 135cm in height, children must use an adult seatbelt.

Remember when choosing a new baby or child seat to test the potential purchase in your car, as all models are not standard. There are a number of groups of car seats, organised according to infant weights: Newborns up to 10kg must use seats in Group 0, or Group 0+ up to 13kg. These seats tend to be rear-facing and have an integrated handle and harness, with three or five fixing points. Don't try to move up to the next group too soon, as rear-facing seats provide the best protection for your baby's head and neck. After this, children can move into forward facing seats from Group 1, for weights between 9-18kg. These are sturdy and robust and have five anchor points.

The next step up is Groups 2-3 for weights of 15-36kg, which tend to take the form of a high-backed seat on a booster seat base unit. They are secured by the car's integrated seatbelts. After this you can use the booster base on its own to ensure your child is at the right height to use the car's seatbelts.

It's helpful to have a car with ISOFIX mounting points, which are a standard fixing to secure child seats securely and easily. These fittings will be compulsory in all new cars from November 2014. ISOFIX connections improve safety when fitting a child seat but compatible seats can be more expensive than traditional, seatbelt secured models.

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