SEATBELT SAFETY (what you need to know)

When I was a little ‘un seatbelts were optional extras.
Cars had one long back seat made from synthetic leather that either froze right through your brown corduroy dungarees (with the sewn-on patches on the knees), or glued to the backs of your legs and ripped your skin every time you moved.
(BTW: if you’re nodding, you’re TOTALLY showing your age…)
Of course these days we wouldn’t dream of driving our children without them being safely and comfortably restrained.
Today there are so many different brands and styles of car seat that choosing the right ones for your children can be confusing – especially as Government regulations are constantly being updated.

Legally, children must wear the right restraint, and be in the correct type of seating, for their age and height. They must use a car seat until they’re 12 years old, or 135cms tall. Until they turn 14, it is still the driver’s legal responsibility to make sure they’re buckled up.

The type of car seat you require depends on the age and height of each individual child. They range from rear-facing seats for infants, right up to booster seats for older children. A reputable stockist will be able to advise you on what seat is best for you, and there is also guidance on the Government’s ADVICE WEBSITE

There are certain instances when a child can travel without a car seat:

• in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle (kids under three must travel in back)
• if they’re travelling a short distance in emergency circumstances
• if there are two occupied child seats in the rear of a vehicle which prevents the fitting of a third, and the child is over three years old, they may sit in the back wearing a (compulsory) adult seatbelt.

Lapbelts aren’t as safe than three-point seatbelts, but many cars only have them fitted in the back of the vehicle as middle seatbelts, and they’re still preferable to not wearing a belt at all.  
Pregnant women should also avoid lap belts wherever possible, although one should be worn if there is no alternative.
It’s also important to ensure your seatbelts are in great condition. If you’ve been involved in a collision they’ll need replacing, as their effectiveness may be reduced. If they’re frayed or damaged you could also fail your MOT.

If you have questions about seatbelt safety, visit the Government’s THINK! website, or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

If you have any legal questions, contact JMW SOLICITORS. Specialists in serious personal injury claims, their team regularly works on behalf of individuals injured as a result of serious road accidents. To find out more about the range of services they offer, visit

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