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Child restraints and seatbelts

Appropriate child restraints

All children need to wear a seat belt or appropriate child restraints when in a vehicle. Appropriate seat belts or restraints greatly reduce the risk of injury in an accident.

Drivers are responsible for making sure that children in their vehicle are travelling safely, as set out in the law.

Child's ageFront seat Rear seat Who is responsible
Under 3 Appropriate child restraint must be usedAppropriate child restraint must be used if availableDriver
Aged 3 to 11 and under 1.5 metres (approximately 5ft) tallAppropriate child restraint must be used if available. If not, an adult seatbelt must be wornAppropriate child restraint must be used if available. If not, an adult seatbelt must be wornDriver
Aged 12 / 13 or younger and over 1.5 metres (approximately 5ft) tallAdult seatbelt must be wornAdult seatbelt must be worn Driver

Appropriate child restraints include:

  • baby carriers
  • child seats
  • harnesses
  • booster seats / cushions

They must be suitable for the child’s weight and must carry a BS Kitemark or a UN 'E' mark, plus a manufacturer’s label showing the weight for which it has been designed.

smaller children using an adult seat may find it more comfortable to use a booster seat / cushion.

Any motor car manufactured after 1 January 1967 must have front seat belts fitted and every motor car manufactured after 1 April 1987 must have rear seat belts fitted.

Exemptions from the law

There are exemptions for children holding a medical exemption certificate or a disabled child wearing a disabled person’s belt.​

Child seats and airbags

Check with your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations on the use of child seats when airbags are fitted.

Within existing legislation, it is not an offence to place children in the front seat of a vehicle(provided they are in an appropriate child restraint). However, DVS recommends that children are not placed in the front seat of any vehicles fitted with airbags.

Airbags and child seats UK ROSPA website

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