Confused about car booster seats? New 2017 law changes explained

Andy Newbound

By: Andy Newbound

If you’re a driver with children, you might be aware that new laws around booster seats will be introduced early next year. Then again, if the findings of a recent report are accurate, it’s quite possible this is the first time you’ve heard the news.

When asked, 56% of parents confessed to being completely unaware that new booster seat regulations are being introduced in 2017. Even more concerning, two thirds admitted that they didn’t even understand the current rules.

It’s quite an alarming situation that perhaps goes some way to explaining why in 2015 alone, more than 4,600 UK drivers were caught breaking child seatbelt laws. Between 2013 and 2015, that figure was almost 20,000. So why do so many parents get this wrong?

According to research carried out on behalf of leading comparison website Confused.com, there are a number of reasons. A lack of clarity is clearly an issue. However over a third of parents readily admit they occasionally choose not to use a booster seat, even when they know the law says they should. Some of the main reasons given for this include;

- Not transferring the booster seat when switching to another car

- Over a quarter believed their child did not need one

- Almost the same number simply didn’t see the need on short trips.

THE NEW 2017 BOOSTER SEAT LAWS EXPLAINED

Of those parents who are aware of the new booster seat regulations, almost 90% admitted to not understanding what the changes will mean. So to help, we’ve broken these changes down into four easy-to-understand points:

1. All children travelling in a vehicle must use the correct car seat for their height, age and weight until they are either 12 years old, or 135cm tall (whichever comes first.)

2. Backless booster seats - also known as booster cushions - will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm, and weighing more than 22kg (3st 6.5lbs).

3. Shorter and lighter children will need to use the larger car seats with backs.

4. However, backless booster seats bought before the law changes can still be used after the regulation change.

Some of this is still confusing, especially the point around children being able to use booster seats bought before the law changes are introduced. Clearly this is to spare parents the expense of buying a new seat. But it’s a mixed message.

If parents are caught travelling with a child who is sitting in a seat not appropriate for their age, height and weight, they could be fined up to £100. So will parents still using a booster seat bought under the previous regulations have to produce a dated receipt?

At the moment, there is definitive answer to this. However, industry experts do agree that booster seats with backs are much safer than those without, so now could be a good time to consider making the switch. At least that way, you can guarantee you won’t fall foul of the new regulations. Plus, you’ll be giving maximum protection to the children travelling in your car.