Important changes to the car booster seat rules recommended by a European Committee of safety experts, were due to come into force this December, however whilst the recommendations were approved in June 2016, they are now not expected to come into force until February or March 2017. None the less, we thought it would still be a good opportunity just to briefly outline the existing position in regards to child car seats and backless booster seats and what the changes will mean to parents as December approaches.
Current car seat law requires that all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat until they are 12 years old OR 135cm tall. Current regulations allow the use of a backless booster seat for children weighing 15 kgs, who could be as young as three years old.
There are arguments to suggest that this type of car seat is unsuitable for children. In the first instance, a backless booster seat provides no side impact protection in the event of a side impact collision. Secondly, with younger, smaller children, the adult seat belt may not guided across the child's body correctly.
Safety experts recommend the use of High Backed Car Seats, which, while more expensive, offer the best protection to a child in an accident situation as they're designed to guide the adult seat belt across the body and offer greater protection in a side impact collision over a back less booster seat.
The new regulations. when they come into force, will see the minimum height for the use of a backless booster seat become 125cm and the minimum weight of the child will become 22kg. In short, once the regulations come into force, any NEW backless booster seat coming onto the market in the UK will only be approved for use under these criteria and will be required to be labelled with the age and weight the seat is suitable for.
Existing products already in use may continue to be used without contravening any rules, however the safety experts agree that a High Backed Car Seat is safer and more suitable for transported children in vehicles.