There is a lot to remember when it comes to child car seat regulations, it can be overwhelming. It is worth knowing and understanding the rules, as if you don’t seat them correctly you could be putting their safety at risk and be in danger of getting a £500 fine. There are laws that surround how, where and in what a child should travel. People often wonder at what age a child can sit in the front seat, legally they can from the any age however that doesn’t mean they should. There are a number of things to consider and check before letting a child sit in the front seat, as in general the back is much safer.
What the law states
In the UK the law states that children aged 3-12 years old or up to 135cm tall must sit in a booster seat in the front or back of the car. The car seat must be suitable for their age and height and they must be wearing a seat belt.
Children under the age of three can sit in the front seat only if there is no space in the back for a child’s car seat. They must travel with the correct car seat and have the airbag disabled.
There are several reasons why you may need to let your child sit in the front seat, but it is worth considering other options as it’s advised that children sit in the back for as long as possible. This is due to the safety concerns surrounding the airbag among other things. Children cannot stand the force of an airbag like an adult can and often would be at a dangerous height should the airbag be released.
What to do if your child sits in the front seat
If you were to place a child in the front seat there are a few precautions, you can take; if they are in a rear facing car seat it is illegal to have the passenger airbag switched on as it could cause serious injury. Some cars have the option to disable the airbag, if not you cannot put a rear facing car seat in the front. If the child is in a forward-facing seat, the passenger seat should be pushed back as far as possible so that the airbag cannot reach.
The safest place for a child seat to be placed in is the middle rear seat, if it has a 3-point seatbelt. This is because it is far away from the sides of the car so less likely to be hit by impact. The back is generally safer as it means less distractions for the driver also.
Booster Seat Law
Booster seats can legally be used as car seats for children but there are sometimes restrictions on individual booster seats about minimum weight restrictions; for this you need to check with the manufacturer. It is recommended that for safety, children should stay in a booster seat until they are 150cm tall as this is when they are tall enough to sit in front of an airbag. From March 2017 manufacturing rules on backless booster seats changed and have since required all backless booster seats only be made for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg. If you purchased a booster seat before this time which is suitable for those weight over 15kg they can still be used but not purchased. Booster seats offer great value for money but a fully supportive car seat offers much more protection in the event of a crash.
In the UK all passengers must wear a seat belt, whilst a child is under 14 it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure this is abided by.