Age limit for booster seat. Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimeters tall, whichever comes first. Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt. You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight.
The Law Age limit for booster seat
The law requires all children traveling in the front or rear seat of any car, van, or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (whichever they reach first). After this, they must use an adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions.
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law.
The law is different for buses, coaches, and minibusses with seat belts fitted. Details are provided in the Other Vehicles section.
You can choose a car seat for your child based either on the child’s height or weight.
- Height-based child seats are called i-Size seats.
- Weight-based child seats offer a range of options: 0kg to 9kg or 13kg, 9kg to 18kg, and 15kg to 36kg.
Children must use a rear-facing seat until they are 15 months old. Never fit a rear-facing child seat in the front if there is an active airbag on the passenger side of the car.
When your child reaches 15 months, their neck will be stronger and it’ll now be safe to mount their car seat facing forward.
Children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm can use a backless booster seat.
Children 12 years old or taller than 135cm do not need to use a child seat. Before this age or height, they must do by law.
Child seats must be fitted either using ISOFIX mountings or a diagonal seat belt strap.
For smaller children, a highback booster seat is recommended.
Why did the law change?
Experts warned that backless booster seats are not secure, rendering them unsafe for young children.
In the event of a side-on crash, a standard seat belt offers little protection for a child as it’s not guided across the body in the same way as a booster seat.
Mark Bennett, the European Product Expert for Britax, said: “The debate around children’s car seat safety is a perennial topic across Europe, so it isn’t surprising that there are positive updates to the regulations. Especially when it comes to booster cushions.
“Booster cushions do not offer head or side protection, which is vital for young children who are still developing and more susceptible to trauma in the event of an accident.
Britax is also urging parents to ‘bin the booster’ and has been for the past years.
Mr. Bennet said: “To ensure a child in this size and weight category is protected and safe in transit. The most effective and safe method is to use a highback booster. Age limit for booster seat
“We recommend parents look for highback booster seats with deep protective side wings. Head support and seat belt guides to ensure the best protection for their children.”
When can kids legally travel without a car seat?
UK law dictates that a child must use a child car seat until they’re 12-years-old or 135cm tall. Whichever comes first. Children over the age of 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.
There are some exceptions when a child does not need to legally use a car seat:
- A child can travel in a taxi or minicab without a car seat but wearing a seat belt if the driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat. They must travel in the rear and wear an adult seat belt if they’re over the age of three. Children under three should travel without a seat belt.
- Children can also travel in a coach or minibus without a child car seat but must travel in the rear seats of a minibus if a child car seat or an adult seat belt isn’t fitted. If child car seats are not fitted or deemed unsuitable, children aged three or older traveling in a minibus must use a seat belt.
A child aged three or older may also use an adult seat belt if making an unexpected but necessary journey over a short distance.
The same rules apply to children with disabilities or medical conditions, but they may use a disabled person’s seat belt or child restraint designed for their needs. A doctor may issue an exemption certificate if necessary.
However, if you don’t make sure any child passengers have the right car seat, in accordance with the law, and they’re injured or killed in an accident, your car insurance may not cover you. Even if that is temporary car insurance.
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What to look for when buying a child car seat
The easiest way to make sure your child is protected (and that you avoid unintentionally breaking the law) is to look for a brand new ‘i-size’ car seat based on the child’s height.
All i-size car seats come with ISOFIX fitting points. This means you can fit the car seat to your car safely without relying on seat belts. ISOFIX fitting points are increasingly fitted to new cars as standard.
With so many car seats on sale, it can be very confusing to choose the right one for your child. We’d suggest buying one from a high street store such as Halfords or Mothercare and avoiding the temptation to buy them online from an unknown source.
Secondhand seats are often cheap – but you don’t know their history and whether they’ve been involved in a crash that might have damaged them.
All car seats used in the UK must be European-approved. Look out for a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle – this indicates that it complies with the latest regulations.
Safety and car seats – the facts
It wasn’t until the 1960s that any real thought was given to child seats – and even then. They were simple booster seats designed to give children a better view out of windows than to keep them safe in the event of a crash.
Volvo has a reputation for being the first with safety advances. So it’s no surprise that it launched a child seat prototype in 1964.
Inspired by how astronauts travel backward. Medical doctor Bertil Oldman (subsequent professor in traffic safety at the Chalmers University of Technology). Developed the very first child seat prototype and tested it in a Volvo PV544.
The Volvo Amazon was available with a front passenger’s seat that could be turned around entirely from 1967. Allowing a child to be kept in place using straps and a padded backrest.
The firm launched the world’s first booster cushion in 1976. And in 1990 the Volvo 960 was launched with an integrated booster cushion.
Seat belts didn’t become a legal requirement for rear-seat passengers in the UK until 1987 and, remarkably, laws requiring children to use special car seats weren’t introduced until 2006!