New Legislation On Backless Booster Seats
New legislation came into force on 9 February 2017. The changes reflect expert recommendations in relation to the use of backless booster seats and are designed to ensure that small children are offered the best protection in the event of an accident. Backless booster seats do not hold children as securely in their seat or ensure that the seatbelt is in the correct position.
Parents and carers need to ensure that they comply with the law. If you already have a seat which complies with the law prior to February 2017 you can carry on using it. If you are now buying a new seat you must comply with the updated regulations.
There is a fine of £500 if a child under the age of 14 is not in a suitable seat or properly restrained. More importantly using the correct seat could save a child’s life or at least avoid serious injury.
What are the changes? Backless booster seats were previously allowed for children weighing 15kg (2st 5lb) or above. This typically applied to children aged 3 and over. The new legislation means that not only will children need to be heavier, at least 22kg (3st 7lbs), but there is now also a minimum height of 125cm (4ft 1ins) for the use of backless booster seats.
What seat should your child be in? When travelling in a car children should be in a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm (4’5”) depending on what comes first.
Further information about the car seat you should be using for your child can be found here www.childcarseats.org.uk
How do I know if the seat is safe? Check the label. All seats used in the UK should be marked as ECE R44-04 or ECE R44-03 or, alternatively, if they are isofix seats the label will say i-Size. If using i-size check that your child’s height is within the range shown on the label.
Why is this so important? A tragic case heard by the Court of Appeal case in 2013 highlighted the importance of using the correct type of car seat for each individual child. A mother was found 25% liable for her daughter’s injuries because she used the wrong seat.
In Williams –v- The Estate of Dayne Joshua Williams, the Claimant, Emma Williams, a 3 year old girl, suffered very serious injuries, including a spinal cord injury which left her paralysed. Emma was in a booster seat in the back of her mother’s car when it was hit by another car driven by the Defendant. The Defendant, who died as a result of the accident, had consumed alcohol and drugs, and lost control of his car and swerved onto the wrong side of the road. There was nothing that Emma’s mother could have done to avoid the accident.
The Defendant’s Insurer admitted liability but argued that Emma’s mother had not used the correct type of car seat and that she should therefore be held 25% liable for Emma’s injuries. They said that if Emma had been in the correct type of car seat her injuries would have been less severe or avoided altogether.
Emma was sitting on a Graco cushion booster seat, with no back, secured by the adult car seat-belt. There was, however, another seat in the car which had been used for Emma until shortly before the accident. This was a Mamas & Papas car seat with a five-point harness. The Defendant’s insurer said that Emma was too young and too small to be placed on the booster seat and that the explicit warnings and instructions in the Graco manual made that very clear.
Emma’s mother argued that she made a reasonable choice in using the Graco booster cushion; although with hindsight it proved to be a mistake. She had read the manual and had not had any difficulty understanding it. The Judge decided that Emma’s mother should not have disregarded the warnings in the manual and she should have used the child seat which was appropriate for a child of Emma’s age and height.
The Court of Appeal found that Emma’s mother should be held 25% liable for her daughter’s injuries.
This case emphasises just how important it is for parents to make sure that the car seat that they are using for their child is the appropriate one for their height, age and weight. The right car seat will provide the maximum protection for a child.
For further information please call Tracey Barton on 01752 292311 or email her by clicking here.