NEW rules being introduced later this year will see backless car booster seats banned for younger children.
Currently, children weighing as little as 15kg – around three years old – are permitted to travel in backless booster seats.
Here's everything you need to know...
The new booster seat rules mean manufacturers are not allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg.
Under current UK law, children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
Why the change?
The new rules are being introduced because many experts think backless booster seats are unsuitable for young children.
They argue that small children aren’t held as securely in the seat, that the adult seat belt isn't guided across their body in the best way, and that backless booster seats offer no protection for a child if a car is involved in a side-impact crash.
What are the differences between booster and backed seats?
Backless booster seats currently satisfy the legal car seats law requirement for children up to 135cm tall, and cost between £6-£30.
However, consumer magazine, Which?, doesn’t approve them.
Which? child car seat expert, Lisa Galliers said: “A decent high-backed booster seat provides better protection in a front crash, as they're designed to guide the adult seat-belt across the child's body properly, and our crash tests prove they offer much more protection in a side-impact crash that a backless booster seat alone.”
Do I need to buy a new seat?
The change doesn’t affect existing models of seats or cushions and doesn’t mean that they are unsafe or illegal - though parents are still being encouraged to make sure they know the rules for using child car seats.
The change to the technical standards means that the range of products available on the market are better suited for younger children.
What are the rules for using child car seats?
You must only use a child car seat if your car’s seat belt has a diagonal strap, unless the seat is either:
- specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt
- fitted using ISOFIX anchor points
You must also:
- deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat
- not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats
Height-based seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old.
Your child can use a forward-facing child car seat when they’re over 15 months old.
Only EU-approved height-based child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’.
What if my child is disabled or has a medical condition?
The same rules apply for children with disabilities or medical conditions but they can use a disabled person’s seat belt or a child restraint designed for their needs.
A doctor can issue an exemption certificate if a child is unable to use a restraint or seat belt because of their condition.