Our latest research finds that one in five grandparents are not using a child car seat when regularly driving their grandchildren aged 10 and under. The problem is, this could break the law.
Travelling with children is not an easy task. It requires a fair amount of preparation – and that’s even before you step foot outside the door. Folding the pram into the car boot, making sure you’ve not forgotten anything vital like the change bag, a spare change of clothing or a small child. Oh and then there’s the in-car entertainment.
All this and you could just be popping out to do the school run. So there’s a lot to think about, and sometimes things get missed off. Forgetting nappies or the change bag is going to be a pain, but if you’re missing a car seat it could land you on the wrong side of the law.
One in five grandparents admitted they were not using any child car seat when regularly driving their grandchildren aged 10 and under, in a survey of 313 Which? members. The problem is this breaks the law.
Child car seats are a legal requirement. Not having one is unsafe for your young passengers and could land you with a hefty fine.
It’s easy to say ‘well I’m only going 5 minutes down the road’, or ‘I’m a careful driver’, but the reality is no one can know if or when they could be involved in an accident.
Getting it right
Whether you’re the parent or the grandparent, it’s down the driver to make sure anyone under 12 is strapped in correctly when they’re in your car.
Current UK law states that you must use the correct child car seat when carrying all children up to 135cm or 12 years of age – whichever comes first.
The fine for not using the appropriate child car seat is a fixed-rate penalty of £100, rising up to £500 if the matter is taken to court.
Our research found that of those grandparents who are using car seats, one third of them are using backless booster seats, and in some cases for children as young as three.
Booster seats are temptingly cheap, and perfectly legal to use. But while using any seat is better than using none at all, booster seats offer very little protection in the event of a crash, particularly side impact protection.
What should you do?
It’s important that any children travelling in your car are in the right seat and that is correctly fitted.
UK law for car seats only applies up to 135cm tall (or 12 years of age), but some safety experts recommend that you use a car seat for all children under 150cm/4ft 11in. This height is the legal requirement in Ireland and also some European countries, such as Germany and France.
For children weighing more than 36kg (5st 10lb) but under 150cm/4ft 11in, our advice is to go by height, not weight. Our child car seat advice can help you to choose the most suitable car seat and we have a free downloadable guide (PDF) to help check if they have fitted their seat correctly.
Did you know these legal requirements, and does this impact you?