Parents could fall foul of new car seat regulations coming into force in the UK because of confusion surrounds what the law actually is.
The rules brought in across the European Union change how backless booster seats are made. The new regulations state that manufacturers are not allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg.
The change does not affect existing models of seats or cushions and does not mean that they are unsafe or illegal, but parents are being urged by the Department for Transport to know the rules for children in cars.
Existing legislation also states that, ‘Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first’ and that all ‘children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt’.
But research carried out by toy retailer Smyths has found that 31 per cent of parents are completely unaware that a change in the law is being introduced, while 50 per cent know of the change but are unaware of what the changes are.
More than 34 per cent of parents believe the change in regulation relates to babies only and means that they are not allowed in a forward-facing seat until they are 15 months olds and one in 10 thought the law was being amended so that booster seats must be professionally installed by a retailer as of today (March 1).
The new legislation is widely available online but 69 per cent of parents said it is hard to access the correct information about car seat safety regulations and that they are unaware of where to look with 78 per cent saying that the current car seat regulations are confusing for parents.
Kevin Clinton, the Head of Road Safety at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), said that parents not knowing the law correctly can cause “chaos”.
He said: “Car seat confusion can cause chaos, especially when it is amended, but it is important that the Government, car seat and vehicle manufacturers and indeed parents, all move with the times as and when improvements to safety can be implemented.”
Sinead Byrne, joint head of marketing at Smyths Toys Superstores agreed that legislation can be complex and that if you do not have the internet it can be difficult to access.
She said: “All of our retail assistants will be on-hand ready to advise on the changes from today and to help parents selecting car seats for their children.”