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Car Insurance - Safety first child restraints

New UK regulations are coming into force to improve children’s safety whilst travelling in a car. This article explains.

September 2006 will see the introduction of new laws regarding child restraints in cars.

Current laws state: - Children aged three to 11 (inclusive) and less than 150cm tall are permitted to travel in an adult seat belt if no child restraint is fitted.

New legislation says: - Children aged three to 11 and under 135cm have to be seated in child seat or booster (designed to be used with an adult belt), suitable for their age and weight.

Children taller than 135cm (4ft 5ins) or aged 12 or over must wear an adult seat belt where one is fitted.

The driver is responsible for ensuring these rules are complied with until the child reaches the age of 14, when they must take responsibility for their own safety.

The Department of Transport believes that, by making sure that children are securely restrained and not allowed to use adult seatbelts until they are sufficiently tall for them to work in the proper manner, 2,000 child injuries and deaths will be prevented.

The penalty for failing to comply with these regulations will be a fixed penalty fine of £30 or, if the case proceeds to court, a fine of up to a maximum of £500.

Exceptions will be allowed in emergencies, cars without seatbelts, and when children are passengers in taxis.

Information on child-seat safety can be obtained from the Child Accident Prevention Trust, or from the government’s website there’s a question and answer section on government website which is very comprehensive and seems to answer every question you could think of.

There’s a good choice of car seats available, and you should always ensure that they are made to conform to the European Union safety standards. For a young child it’s probably worth investing in a seat that can be adjusted as your child grows.

For an idea of what you’d have to pay for a seat that would take your child from 9 months to 12 years, the Recaro Start seat can be bought for around £200. 

There’s the Evolva 23 seat, from Britax, which is adjustable and suitable for children weighing from15kg to 36kg and up to 135cm (4ft 5ins). The back of the seat can be extended as the child grows, so that the head is always supported. This costs around £65.

For a baby of up to 9 months, or around 13kg, a rear facing approved car seat is acceptable, fitted on either the front passenger seat or in the back of the car. It must no be used in the front if an airbag is fitted.

It’s extremely important that the seat is fitted properly, and many suppliers offer a fitting service. Do remember that it’s important that before you have the seat fitted; make sure it fits your child.

The 18 September is the date that the Department of Transport is aiming for, so remember, after this date you need to comply with the new rules.

These laws are to be taken seriously. Parents and regular carers are not the only ones who need to be “car seat ready”. You may occasionally take your, say 9 year old, grandchild out with you. The big difference there is that, prior to September 18; no special steps had to be taken. After this date you’ll need to equip yourself with a seat or booster.

If you are in the unfortunate position of being involved in an accident, and if your child or children are not travelling in an approved car seat or booster, your insurance may not be willing to pay out, resulting in what could be a considerable personal claim against the driverPsychology Articles, whose responsibility it is.

Parents and (even occasional) carers please take note.

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