For family car owners, there are few, if any, things more important about a vehicle than its safety features – in particular how they relate to keeping the younger members of the family safe and sound.
Buying the right vehicle is only half the battle when it comes to child car safety, however. With several child car safety laws out there, plus a number of safety accessories available on the market, much of keeping your little ones safe comes down to personal responsibility.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide on all things relating to car safety for kids – from abiding by current child car safety regulations to finding the safest family car and what you can do to ensure your most precious cargo is secure.
As a parent, you have some legal obligations to your children in the car. When it comes to your children’s safety, in-car regulations largely centre on the use of a child car seat or booster seat for kids of certain ages and sizes.
The child car safety laws you must abide by in the UK are:
- Children must use a car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm in height – whichever comes first.
- Children over 12 or 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.
- The same rules apply for children with disabilities or medical conditions; however, they can use a disabled person’s seat belt or specially designed child restraint as per their needs. Likewise, a doctor can issue an exemption for a child if they’re unable to use a restraint or belt because of their condition.
As for child car seat safety, with UK law focused almost entirely on the appropriate use of car seats, it’s important to know about the different types of car seats available, who can use them and how to fit them. Here are the essentials:
Choosing a car seat
There are two different types of car seats to choose from:
- Height-based seats: Otherwise known as ‘i-Size’ seats, these must be rear-facing until your child is 15 months old. Once your child is 15 months old, you can use a forward-facing seat, but it must be suitable for your child’s height.
- Weight-based seats: Also known as group seats because they’re banded into five groups, weight-based seats cover varying weight ranges from 0-36kg. Some weights apply to more than one group, meaning you may be able to choose from more than one type of seat.
Fitting a child seat
There are a few rules to do with fitting your seat correctly:
- You must only use a child seat with a diagonal seatbelt strap unless the seat is specifically designed for use with a lap seatbelt or fitted using ISOFIX anchor points.
- You must deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing child seat in a front seat.
- You cannot fit a child seat in a side-facing seat.
- Fit the seat exactly as the manufacturer instructions advise. If the seat wobbles, it’s not fitted properly or not suitable for your vehicle.
Buying a child seat
A few things to remember when looking to buy a car seat:
- It’s recommended you don’t buy a second-hand car seat, as you could get a seat that has been previously compromised – this isn’t always clear from an aesthetic standpoint. If you do buy a used seat, make sure to thoroughly check its condition and history and have access to manufacturer instructions.
- Not every seat will fit your vehicle, so make sure to try before you buy and be aware of your seat’s return policy when buying.
- Check whether your car has ISOFIX attachments that will be compatible with ISOFIX seats.
- A seat that’s quick and easy to fit makes the most sense for long-term, everyday use.
For more information, you can visit the Child Car Seats website.
Of course, life on the road with the kids isn’t all about the car seat. There are a few other things you can do to help keep the kids safe and comfortable to put your mind at ease.
Here are our picks for the best car safety tips for children:
- Use the child safety locks on your car doors: If your vehicle has child locks, make sure to put them to good use. Additionally, it’s a good idea to lock the power windows to prevent your kids from playing with them and potentially hurting themselves.
- Use a child car mirror for safety: These allow you to keep an eye on your child while driving, so you can see exactly what they’re up to throughout the journey.
- Remove any unnecessary items from the seating area: Get rid of any coats or blankets on the child seat – anything that will get in the way of making the seat fit your child as well as possible.
- Consider your driving style: If you’ve never been one to follow the speed limit to a tee, now’s the time to start. Follow the law, drive at the speed limit and keep things as safe as possible for you and your family.
Euro NCAP has long been the gold standard for judging cars on their safety qualities. Their rating system considers four key categories – adult occupants, child occupants, vulnerable road users and safety assists. With the child occupant category in mind, buyers can narrow down their search to the family cars with the most child-focused safety tech.
Some of the Euro NCAP top scorers in this area that you can find here at Jardine include:
If the safety of your children in your car is your biggest priority, we can help you find the perfect vehicle. As you can see from the list above, we’ve got plenty of options in our new and approved used catalogue that suit family car buyers looking for a luxury motor with practical and safe crossover features.
Head down to your local Jardine dealership today if you want to see our range, or book a virtual appointment with our team today. If you have any questions for us, get in touch and let us know.