Changes to child car seats due December 2016

If you are a parent, news that stricter rules related to the use of booster seats are coming into force may surprise you.

The change, due to take effect in December this year, will see the use of backless booster seats limited to older children only. Under the new rules, backless booster seats will only be approved for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg.

Currently, children weighing as little as 15kg (that's around three years old), can travel in a backless booster seat. Now however, car seat experts believe that this type of seat is simply not suitable for such young children. As an adult seat belt is principally used to secure the child, it is not guided across smaller bodies in the best way. And crucially, a booster seat offers no protection for a child if a car is involved in a side-impact crash.

Consumer Group Which? has referred to the upcoming change in regulations as a “booster seat ban”, in reference to the reduction in the number of children using backless booster seats.

“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,” said Lisa Galliers, Which? child car seat expert.

“Our crash tests prove they offer much more protection in a side-impact crash than a backless booster seat alone."

The new regulations are expected to only apply to any new products appearing on the market and parents who have a booster seat now will still be able to use the seat without breaking the law.

For more information on the current UK laws on car seats and when children are able to travel without one, visit the government’s website.

What shop staff should ask parents when buying a car seat, as reported by Good Egg Safety.

• Child’s weight
• Child’s height
• What vehicle the seat will be used in
• If the seat will be used in any other vehicles
• If the vehicle has ISOfix
• If the seat is fitted to the front of the vehicle - (the shop staff should advise on airbag risk)
• They should also advise on the safety benefits of rear facing child seats and demonstrate the fitment of the car seat.

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