New children's seatbelt laws could cost you £500

Contributed by editor on Sep 14, 2006 - 01:30 PM


From next Monday (18 September 2006) there will be changes to the Child Seatbelt Laws and all children must travel in an appropriate child car seat. 

The new legislation comes into force to help prevent child deaths and injuries and applies to all children until they reach the age of 12 years or 135cm (4ft 5in) tall, whichever comes first.

The new legislation has been brought in to make sure that the right restraint is used according to the size of the child. 

Adult seat belts are not designed for children under a certain height and it is important to keep the 'lap' part of the seatbelt as low as possible over the stomach. If the belt sits too high there is a risk of damage to internal organs, as well as the child slipping out in the event of a crash.

For a lot of families this will mean making sure an older child uses a booster seat or booster cushion where previously they may have used an adult seatbelt.

Drivers have the responsibility to ensure that children are properly restrained and if drivers don't comply with the new regulations there is a risk of a £30 fixed penalty notice. If the case goes to court, the maximum fine is £500.

Chief Inspector John Frayne: "These new laws will increase children's safety when travelling on the roads and it is predicted that around 2,000 child deaths or injuries will be prevented nationally. All too often we see the tragic consequences when road safety regulations are ignored by drivers and we will be making sure these new laws are policed effectively."

Under the new regulations there is an exemption for 'an unexpected necessity', which allows a child of three years or more to wear an adult belt on a short journey when no appropriate child seat is available. However, children under three years of age must always sit in a child seat. The only exception is when travelling in the rear of a taxi, or in an emergency vehicle. 

The new law will apply to police cars carrying children in non-emergency or pre-planned situations.

The new regulations do not cover buses/minibuses, where seated passengers aged 14 years and above must use seat belts where fitted. 

The government will bring forward a requirement for all children aged three years to 13 years to use seat belts (or child restraints if they are available) for these vehicles in the near future.


Check the height of the child - children up to 135cm in height (and under 12 years old), need to use a child seat, booster seat or booster cushion. 
Before buying or using any child restraint, check the label to make sure it is suitable for the child's weight. 
Check that any restraint is securely fitted and suitable for the car it is to be used in. 
Get expert advice - many retailers have trained in-store experts who can advise on the best kind of car seat for a child and can demonstrate how to fit it. 
More information
For full details of the new regulations and how it will affect you, visit the Department of Transport website THINK! Road Safety.