Road safety minister Stephen Ladyman MP has announced details of proposed new regulations to reduce injuries through more appropriate use of child restraints. Government estimates that some 2,000 casualties could be saved if all drivers ensured that their passengers adhered to the new regulations.
Mr Ladyman said, ‘Most people make sure that children use some kind of restraint when travelling on the road, but it is vitally important to use the right one; and not to use an adult belt before the child is big enough.
‘Small children need the protection that baby seats and child seats are designed to provide. Seat belts are designed for adults. Children who have grown out of child seats still need to use booster seats or booster cushions.’
The new requirements say that:
– all children under three years old must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in any car or goods vehicle (except in the rear of a taxi if a child seat is not available);
– children aged three or more years and up to 135cm in height must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars or goods vehicles fitted with seat belts;
– rear-facing baby seats must not be used in front seats with active frontal air-bag;
– from May 2009, the number of people carried in the rear of vehicles should not exceed the number of rear seats fitted with seat belts or child restraints;
– from May 2008, UNECE 44.03 compliant or later standard child restraints must be used.
Commenting on the announcement, RoadSafe director Adrian Walsh said, ‘Although these regulations will bring us into line with Europe, there is no earthly reason why responsible drivers should not insist on all passengers wearing belts now. It is staggering just how often they simply don’t bother – worse still many parents don’t use appropriate child seats or even allow young children to sit in the front of cars.’