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This question came up recently when I was attending a meeting regarding topical issues for motoring mum’s, and whilst checking the current guidelines, I found it hard to believe that the law requires children up to the age of 12 to still be sat in a booster seat, but this is indeed the case. That is, unless the child reaches the height of 4 foot 5 inches prior to their twelfth birthday.
The fact that even as a motoring journalist and mum, I was a little hazy on the current child car seats laws, has led me to research some of the key areas which mothers should consider when they are travelling with children in the car. Below are some guidelines for parents to follow courtesy of the Trusted Dealers.
The law clearly states that any child below the height of 4 foot 5 inches or up to the age of 12, must sit in a booster seat. Drivers who fail to comply with the rules will face fines from £30 on-the-spot or up to £500 in court if the children they are carrying do not comply with the regulations. Children up to the age of 3 years must be carried in appropriate car seat.
Why the wait?
A booster seat protects a child better than seat belts alone and in the event of an accident an ill fitting seatbelt could actually cause injury to a small child as opposed to preventing it. For example, if the lap strap of the seatbelt rests on a child’s tummy (which is a likely occurrence without a booster), the child could suffer damage to their stomach, liver or spleen. Whilst, if the shoulder belt rests against the neck of a child as opposed to their chest, it may well be moved by the child to under his arm (where he could crack a rib or damage internal organs) or to behind his back, offering no support whatsoever to his head and neck leading to possible spinal injuries.
When is my child ready to lose the booster?
Despite the rules being set, it is also well worth testing your child using just a seatbelt before you decide to remove their booster seat altogether. Buckle your child into the back seat then look out to see whether they sit all the way back against the car seat and their knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat. Also look to see whether their lap belt and shoulder belt are positioned in the correct areas to avoid the injuries outlined above. If your answer is no to any of these points then your child is not ready to lose the booster seat.
What do I do if they protest?
Naturally, most children will protest against a booster seat once they start to become aware of what their friends are doing and how it might make them look. One way to combat this is to let your child perhaps pick a new booster seat which offers a cool-looking cover or other added gimmicks such as a cup holder, integrated headphones etcetera. Above all, make it clear that whilst travelling in the car, the addition of the booster seat is non-negotiable.