Stricter rules regarding the use of booster seats will come into force in December 2016, limiting the use of backless booster seats to older children.
Under current UK law, all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat until 12 years old or 135cm tall. In some European countries this height limit is 150cm.
Under the new rules, backless booster seats will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg. At the moment, children weighing as little as 15kg, that’s around three years old, can travel in backless booster seats. But many child car seat experts agree that this type of booster seat is unsuitable for such young children. A small child isn’t held as securely in the seat, the adult seat belt isn’t guided across their little body in the best way, and, most importantly, a booster seat offers no protection for a child if your car’s involved in a side-impact crash.
Which? child car seat expert, Lisa Galliers says: ‘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, and our crash tests prove they offer much more protection in a side-impact crash that a backless booster seat alone.’
Child car seat law
- UK law states that children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm/4ft 5in tall, whichever comes first.
- Safety experts recommend that you use a child 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.
- Children under three must be in a child car seat. If there’s no room for a third child seat in the back of your vehicle. Children aged three or under can use the front seat but they must be in a child car seat.
- You can’t take children under three on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat. The only exception to this rule is if it’s in a licensed taxi or minicab and the rear seats are separated from the driver by a fixed partition and the child travels on the rear seats.
- If you ignore the law you are liable to a find of £500 if you go to court.
The new additions to the child car seats regulations should come into effect in December 2016, but will only apply to any new products appearing on the market. So parents looking to buy a booster seat next year should start to see that they’re not approved for use with children under 125cm and 22kg.