The rules for carrying children in cars

If you carry children in a car you’ll need to understand the legal requirements. As the driver, you’re responsible for seat belt wearing and restraint use by children under 14 years. This is for the safety of everyone in the car, and the penalty for offenders is a £100 fixed penalty notice.

With few exceptions, all children under 12 years and under 135cm tall must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in any car or goods vehicle.

  • All children under 3 years old must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in any car or goods vehicle (except in the rear of a taxi if a child seat is not available).
  • Children aged 3 or more years old, and up to 135cm (approx 4ft 5in) tall, must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars or goods vehicles fitted with seat belts. A few exceptions are permitted.
  • Rear-facing baby seats mustn’t be used in seats with an active front air-bag
  • If seat belts are provided, you can’t carry more people in the rear than there are seats fitted with belts or restraints.
  • Your child seats must be approved to the ’03’ or later version of Regulation 44, so an approval label with 44.03 or 44.04 is ok but you can’t use a seat with 44.02
  • Since April 2015, child seats may also be approved by Regulation 129 (i-Size)

Exemptions

There’s a special exemption for children over 3 on an occasional journey (unforeseen emergency) over a short distance, so it doesn’t apply to the regular school run; The child must still use an adult belt and must sit in the rear.

The only exemption for children under 3 is when they travel in the back of a taxi and therefore a child seat is not available.

Summary table

Person in car Front seat Rear seat
Driver A seatbelt must be worn if fitted A seatbelt must be worn if fitted
Children under 3 years The correct child seat must be used The correct child seat must be used. If travelling by taxi and one is not available, a child may travel unrestrained
Child 3 to 11 years and under 135cm (approx. 4ft 5in) The correct child restraint must be used The correct child restraint must be used where seatbelts are fitted. A child must use an adult belt in the rear if:

  • in a taxi, the correct child restraint is not available
  • on a short and occasional trip, the child restraint is not available
  • two occupied child restraints prevent the use of a third
Child 12 or 13 (or younger child over 135cm) A seatbelt must be worn if fitted A seatbelt must be worn if fitted
Adult passenger A seatbelt must be worn if fitted A seatbelt must be worn if fitted

 

Adapted from an original article by theaa.com