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The laws are set to be put in place in spring 2017 and following approval, they’ll limit the use of backless booster seats to older children only.
The current law states that all children under the age of 12 or under 135cm tall must use the correct car seat. This means that children of approximately 3 years plus can legally ride in a backless booster seat, something considered unsafe by many child car seat experts.
Under new booster seat rules, backless booster seats will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm weighing more than 22kg.
Some of the reasons why a backless booster seat is potentially unsafe for a little one include:
Despite currently satisfying the legal car seats law requirement for children, backless booster seats are not recommended for smaller children. They may be cheap to buy and easy to install, but investing a little more cash in a high-backed child car seat will ensure your child is safer and better protected.
Which? child car seat expert, Lisa Galliers says: ‘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 than a backless booster seat alone.
A car seat or booster seat is compulsory for all children who are under the age of 12 or under 135cm tall, whichever comes first. You’ll need to check the label of the car seat contains a capital ‘E’ in a circle, which means it confirms to EU standards and is therefore legal to use.
Children can only travel in cars where the child car seat has been fixed via a seatbelt with a diagonal strap – the only exceptions are when the child car seat itself has been specifically designed to work with a lap seatbelt, or both the car and child car seat come with ISOFIX anchor points. If a child is to ride in the front passenger seat, you must ensure the passenger airbag is de-activated.
There are two options for choosing a child car seat based on a child’s weight or height. The options include the newer i-Size standard and the older ECE R 44/04 standard. Each height based i-Size seat comes with a different height limit so it’s up to you to make sure you buy the right one for your child. Under new i-Size standards, children under 15 months must be placed in a rear-facing position.
Although the newer i-Size child car seats are generally more expensive, they offer extra protection from side impacts. The rear facing position has been proven to be five times safer than the forward-facing position with infants due to the fragility of their neck and head.
ECE R 44/04 seats are based on a child’s weight. From 9kg or 15 months onwards, the type of seat depends on the child’s weight. The table below outlines the different types of ECE R 44/04 car seat recommended for a child’s weight.
|Child’s weight||Car seat type|
|0kg-25kg||Rear-facing baby seat or rear-facing baby seat using a harness|
|9kg-18kg||Rear or forward-facing baby seat|
|15kg-36kg||Forward-facing high-backed booster seat|
|Over 22kg||Forward-facing high-backed booster seat or booster cushion|
NB: The new additions to the child car seats regulations will only apply to any new products appearing on the market. Parents looking to buy a booster seat next year should note that new booster seats will not be approved for use with children under 125cm and 22kg.