Sainsbury’s Money Matters Guest Post – A Parent’s Guide To Child Car Seats

You can’t be too careful when it comes to carrying young passengers in the car. One thing all parents can do to help protect children is choose the correct child car restraint. In this guide, we look at how to choose and use the right one for your child.

What the law says
According to the law, children travelling in the car must use an appropriate car seat until they’re 135cm tall or 12 years old. It’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure that children under 14 use appropriate child restraints.

Failure to do so could lead to a fine of up to £500. It could also affect any claims against your car insurance cover. And if you fail to safely carry someone else’s child, you could face civil proceedings.

Safety standards
The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says child restraints in the UK must conform to the United Nations ECE regulation R44.03 or a later version of the standard. According to RoSPA, you can also use a child car seat if it conforms to a British standard, or to an earlier version of R44. Look for the ‘E’ mark to see if your seat conforms.

ISOFIX is another standard that is used to help make installing the seat quick and easy.

Types of child car seats
As stated by RoSPA, seats must be used based on your child’s weight, and you should only move your child out of their present seat once they’ve outgrown it.

The following is a run down of the different car seats available.

  • Rearward-facing baby seat This is the first kind of seat that a baby will need, and is for children up to 13kg. It is safer than a forward-facing seat as it gives better protection to the baby. You cannot use a rear-facing design in the front passenger seat if it is protected by an active airbag – so either deactivate the airbag or use on the rear seat.
  • Forward-facing child seat For children weighing 9-18kg, this seat should be used once your baby has outgrown the rearward-facing seat. It should have an integral harness, which can help to reduce the risk of injury if there’s a crash. It’s safer to place these on the rear seat, especially if the front seat has an airbag.
  • Booster seat and booster cushion Booster seats are designed for children between 15kg and 36kg, but booster cushions are different; some are made for children between 15-36 kg, while others are suitable only for children above 22kg. Since these child seats don’t have integral harnesses to hold the child in place, the adult seat belt should be used around the child and the seat.

Using child car seats
Many parents do not understand how to properly use child car seats. In fact, a survey by The Observer found that 66% of child car seats in the UK are wrongly fitted. The government suggests the following ways to correctly fit a child car seat:

  • Ensure your child is placed firmly in the seat and that the belt passes through all the correct slots.

  • The adult seat belt and the child seat shouldn’t be altered in any way to make them fit.

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Replacing car seats after an accident
It’s vital to replace any child car seat that’s been involved in a car accident, even if there are no visible signs of damage. A crash can weaken a child seat and it may not offer the same kind of protection in the future. The seat belt and its attachments should also be checked for damage.

RoSPA also suggests you make sure your car insurance covers the cost of replacing a child car seat.

Knowing how to choose and use child car seats can help your family stay safe on the road. Choosing the right car insurance for your family’s needs will also help to give you peace of mind.

Author Bio:

Gargi Shastri writes for the Sainsbury’s Money Matters blog on a range of topics including car insurance, car safety and other motoring topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys yoga and cooking Indian food.

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