/ Health, Motoring, Parenting, Travel & Leisure

Do all grandparents use a child car seat for their grandchildren?

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.

Our research

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?

Comments
Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

A very useful and thoughtful Conversation. Congratulations.

Profile photo of ronniemay
Member

We always use child seats for our two grand children, but the ‘jigsaw’ clip is very frustrating and take far to long to get right at an angel! Grrrrr.

Profile photo of JosefKafka
Member

ronnie says:
” … an angel … ”
============
Guardian, or ”right”?

;-))…………………… I trust that I’m laughing WITH you.

Regards

Member
Biggles says:
12 December 2015

Ah. That’s a bit different to the ‘Need-to-know number’ in this week’s ‘Weekly Scoop’ email, which says that ‘Just 22% of grandparents use a child car seat’.

Only one in five NOT using a car seat, as above, while not good, sounds more likely and isn’t that bad, then.

Profile photo of cheshire resident
Member

Car seat is a permanent feature in my car. I never know if I might be called on to collect from school if my daughter’s running late. I don’t think she’d let me take my grandson out in the car if I didn’t have the child seat!!

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

I think readers should also be aware of the exceptions permitted under the law. These include:

Unexpected journeys: If the correct child seat isn’t available, a child over 3 years of age can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:
unexpected
necessary
over a short distance

Profile photo of JosefKafka
Member

Great input – T U
Do you have a Cop Proof Ref I can quote, PLEASE ?
Regards

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Child car seat regs:

gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/using-a-child-car-seat-or-booster-seat

Profile photo of JosefKafka
Member

Ian says:59 seconds ago
Child car seat regs:
========================
Fantastic = Thank you.
——————-
”Unexpected journeys
If the correct child seat isn’t available, a child over 3 years of age can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:

unexpected
necessary
over a short distance
You can’t take children under 3 in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat (except a taxi or minicab).”

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I see a trend in Which -get the old – 1 in 5 =20 % . OKay here is some more official statistics –People beteew the agesc of 15 to 44 account for 48 % of Global road traffic deaths –WHO (updated october -2015 ) AND — now UK =5419 killed on UK roads involved at least one young car driver –an 18 year old is 3 X more likely to be involvled in a crash than a 48 year old —single biggest cause of accidental death of youing people in the UK is by road accident —one in 8 drivers is under 25 BUT account for 1/3 -33 % of people who die on UK roads ,very sobering , but media -DONT (whatever you do ) criticise young people .

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Yes right ! but to me there is a worrying trend going on here ,imported from the US “Land of the Young ” and being used continually by the media/government to portray old being as -“time something was done about them(as they arent brainwashed as we like it) ” WEll here are some sobering statistics –WHO= People between the ages of 15 and 44 account for 48 % of Global Road Traffic Deaths-updated -October 2015 — Now for UK statistics – 5419 people killed on UK roads involved at least one young car driver –18 year olds are 3 X -33 % more likely to be involved in a crash than a 48 year old — single biggest cause of accidental death of UK young people is road accidents –one driver in eight is under 25 BUT account for 1/3 -33 % of people who die on the roads . dated-20th July -2014 statistics .Not “news ” that the media/government wants in public view due to its -lets get old people, but true never the less , NGO ?

Profile photo of Paultwyford
Member

We as grandparents have a Which recommended child seat for our grandson, likewise our son does.
However we are mortified that his mother just uses a booster seat often without belt restraint. We dread that that an accident could happen.

Member
Paul Culling says:
12 December 2015

My grandson is 6 years old and already 4’6″ and so legally doesn’t need a child seat. The information in here about the law in other countries setting the height limit at 4’11” is useful as we have continued to use his child seat although I suspect it will be too physically small before he gets to this higher limit

Profile photo of DrHerryAshby-IAMmember
Member

I think this an appalling indictment and poor reflection on grandparental responsibility!
Would drivers leave fine bone china or other delicate items sitting unprotected on a car back seat?

Profile photo of KCanterbury
Member

I have been agonising over this issue. Our granddaughter (8 yrs, but small for her age) has just grown out of her Group 1 seat, which served her very well indeed. Having seen the “Which?” report (and especially the video) we aimed to get a Best Buy Group 3 seat for her. However, her parents have bought a cheap booster seat for their car. She likes this, and was affronted when we said we planned to buy a child seat with a high back. She mentioned that some of her friends (perhaps a bit bigger – who knows) just use the adult belts with no booster, and it’s clear that she regards a high-back seat as babyish. I guess that there’s a lot of peer pressure too, and I don’t want her to be laughed at by her friends!

While I respect the “Which?” view that we should not buy a booster seat, I would have found it helpful if the child seat reviews took into account the sort of problem we face. For example, we don’t know if all booster seats are equally bad, or whether some are better than others.

Profile photo of MarkRM
Member

When it comes to backless boosters they are all equally bad as they don’t offer any protection in the event of an impact, only a higher seating position to place the belt in the proper location. Given that bone development is incomplete until approximately the age of 6 or 7, and rib position isn’t finalised until the age of about 10, it’s important to keep the additional protection offered by high back boosters for as long as possible.

Member

I’m not a grandparent but a parent our 7 year old still uses as high backed Group 3 seat – however since our youngest is now big enough for a Group 3 seat I am looking for an additional seat since we have 2 cars and need to coordinate pickups. Talking to other parents that we know – we seem to be the only ones using a high backed seat for a 7 year old – everyone else is using cheap booster seats. Because we have inherited a Group 3 Britax seat from grandparents we plan to use this for longer journeys in the bigger car and get a booster cushion for the smaller car. However our 4 year old will continue to always use a high backed seat. It would be helpful if Which compared booster cushions – it is inevitable that in practical modern life a 7+ year old will use one. When it comes to children’s parties other parents expect one so they can give lifts (sometimes with 3 kids in the back).

Profile photo of KCanterbury
Member

Thanks to Mark for the helpful response.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello all, some new Which? research I wanted to share with you:

Which? has discovered that more than half of parents of babies are still not aware of i-Size, a change to the child car seat law. That’s despite i-Size becoming part of the child car seats law 12 months ago. In February 2016 we questioned 1,622 parents, with at least one child aged five years or younger, on what they knew about i-Size. 59% of parents, with a baby under one, admitted they’d never heard it.

Read more: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/04/new-parents-unaware-of-change-to-child-car-seats-law-438930/ – Which?

Member
Dawn Harbottl says:
19 March 2017

I have such a dilemma, if I go to my daughter’s at anytime before my grandbaby go to nursery ( 4+3 years) she expects me to take them WITHOUT car seats and just use the seatbelts !!! I refused the last time for her scream at me ” you have done it before” what can i do 😥😥

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Tell her to read : http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/pics-toddler-thrown-through-windscreen-in-crash-20160906 .Dont listen to your daughter , would you forgive yourself if the children were injured ,and more to the point she wouldn’t forgive you Dawn .