What does the law say?
You must use a restraining system if one is fitted in your vehicle. The law is complicated, so the best way to stay on the right side of it is to use the most appropriate restraint for everyone travelling in the car.
Where children are concerned, the law states that:
- You must not carry an unrestrained child in the front seat.
- Children under three travelling in a vehicle MUST be carried in a correct child restraint (infant carriers or child seat).
A child between the ages of 3-12 and up to 135cm in height (approx 4ft 5ins):
- carried in the front MUST use a correct child restraint.
- carried in the rear where seat belts are fitted MUST use the correct child restraint.
If the correct child restraint is not available a child aged 3 years or older MUST use an adult seat belt in the rear of a vehicle:
- In a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle.
- or for a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity.
- or two occupied restraints prevent fitment of a third.
You can't take children under 3 in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat (except in the back seat of a taxi or minicab)
A child over 135cm in height (approx 4ft 5ins) or 12 or 13 years old MUST wear an adult seatbelt if available, in the front or rear.
If you don't obey the law you will:
- be liable to prosecution if any child under 14 is in your car and not wearing a correct child restraint or seatbelt. If over 14, they will be liable themselves.
- be served a monetary fixed penalty or possibly penalty points if a child is found to be unrestrained.
- have your compensation restricted. Any money awarded after an accident may be reduced if anyone in the car was not properly restrained.
In addition to seat belt legislation, the law also provides for those who are deemed to be carrying passengers in a dangerous manner. This is a much more serious offense and carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.
It's best simply to make sure you can't be found guilty.