In the UK, children up to 12 years of age and up to 135cm tall are required by law to use either a child seat or child booster when travelling in the front or rear of any car, van or large vehicle.
All child car seats must conform to the United Nations standard for child car safety equipment, ECE Regulation 44.04 or R 44.03 or to the new i-size regulations for child car safety equipment. A child’s car seat must be suitable for your child’s individual weight and size and must be fitted within your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The most important factor of a child seat is that it comprehensively protects your child in the event of an accident. In order to ensure that your particular choice of child seat will provide sufficient protection for your child, you will need to know your child’s exact weight. This is because all child seats are grouped according to age and weight. Therefore, once you know your child’s weight you can select an appropriate child seat which will offer the best security for your child whilst you are driving. The different categories of child seat are listed below:
Group 0: rearward-facing baby seats which can only be used for children who weigh up to 10kg . These seats are usually appropriate for children between the age of 0 and 6 to 9 months.
Group 0+: combination rearward-facing and forward-facing baby seats which are suitable for children who weigh up to 13kg and who are between 9 months and 15 months of age.
Group 1: forward-facing child safety seats for children who weigh between 9kg and 18kg and who are usually aged between 9 months and 4 years old.
Group 2/3 : high-backed booster seats which are suitable for children weighing between 15kg and 25kg, and who are usually between 4 and 6 years of age.
Group 3: booster cushions for children who weigh between 22kg and 36kg and who are usually between 6 and 11 years of age.
Child Seat Statistics
- In 2010, 14 children who were aged between 0 and 11 years were killed in road-related incidents and 206 were seriously injured. Moreover, 1 in 10 children who weigh under 80 pounds are completely unrestrained whilst being driven around by their parents.
- Although 96% of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, research shows that 7 out of 10 children are improperly restrained. The safest place for children to be seated is in the rear seat. However, 6 out of 10 drivers who have children aged 12 or under believe that it is safer for their children to sit in the front seat in front of a passenger air bag.
- Using a booster seat is 60% safer for children than being restrained by a seat belt alone. However, nearly 70% of drivers believe it is safe for children aged 8 or under to not be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat. Studies show that only 21% of children who are between 4 and 8 years of age ride in a booster seat whilst being driven around by their parents.
- In 2004, child seats and restraints saved the lives of approximately 451 children under 5 years of age. Out of these children whose lives were saved, 413 cases were directly linked with the use of child safety seats and 38 cases were directly linked to the use of adult belts.
- Recent crash test studies have demonstrated that child safety seats can reduce fatal road traffic collision injuries by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers aged between 1 and 4 years.
Listed below are a series of helpful hints to aid your child car seat selection process. By researching the available options, you can choose a seat which will adeptly protect your child from potential road-related accidents, which can easily be fitted within your vehicle, and which will accommodate your family’s day-to-day transportation needs:
- Check the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) website to certify whether your specific model of child seat has been tested.
- Use the Euro NCAP website to view their Child Restraint System installation checks. These checks enable you to find out which child seats are easiest to fit within your vehicle.
- Choose a child seat which best suit your daily needs. For instance, if you intend to frequently remove the child seat, it is advisable you select a lightweight model. Alternatively, if you intend to travel long distances, you can choose child seats which recline in order to provide more comfort for your child.
- Scrutinise the dimensions of your chosen child seat to ensure it will fit within your vehicle.
- Check that your particular child seat adheres to the United Nations standard Regulations or new i-size standards.
- Avoid second hand child seats because you cannot be certain that they are efficient. If a second hand child seat is damaged or has been involved in a road traffic collision, it may possess hidden internal damage which will prevent it from comprehensively protecting your child.
- Choose a child seat which is appropriate for the weight and size of your child. If you pick an inappropriately sized seat, it will not safeguard your child as effectively as it should.