What changes are being made to the Highway Code?
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Motorists could be hit with fines of up to £500 and receive penalty points for failing to ensure the safety of child passengers. Motoring experts have encouraged drivers to pay attention to their children’s seats and take correct measures to adequately protect them.
The fixed penalty for failing to wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger is a £100 fine.
However, if the case goes to court, drivers could face a fine of £500.
Motorists could also face civil proceedings for damages if they failed to safely transport someone else’s child.
In addition to the legal penalties, failure to wear a seat belt or failure to ensure that a child passenger uses an appropriate child car seat or wears a seat belt according to the legal requirements described above could affect any claims against your motor insurance cover.
Experts at CarMats.co.uk have urged parents to make their children a priority, which will avoid hefty fines by ensuring they follow the driving laws surrounding child car seats.
Under rules 99 to 102 of The Highway Code, youngsters must remain in a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.
A car seat can either be chosen on the basis of the child’s height or weight.
See the table below for weight parameters:
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Height-based: Size seats are chosen based on the height of a child so they are the correct size for the seat.
Those under 15 months must be placed in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 15 months and can sit in a forward-facing car seat.
Drivers often make common mistakes that can be avoided.
With that in mind, motoring experts at CarMats.co.uk highlighted some of them.
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Car seat not installed correctly or securely:
An indicator that the child seat isn’t installed correctly is if the seat is considerably loose.
If it can be moved with ease, it may mean that it hasn’t been installed properly or that the car seat isn’t compatible with the car.
Drivers should make sure to follow the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the car seat and thoroughly check its fixture in the car every time it is used.
Adding nonessential toys to the seat:
Keeping a young child entertained is no easy task, but attaching a toy to a child’s seat can be a safety risk.
Unless a toy or accessory came with the seat or is recommended by the manufacturer, then it shouldn’t be used.
Toys when detached from the seat can become a flight risk and cause a distraction while driving.
Straps are too loose or too tight:
A child seat could be installed perfectly, but if the straps aren’t properly adjusted then a child could be dislodged from the seat, resulting in injury, or worse, in the event of a crash.
One way to check the straps are fastened correctly is by doing the pinch test.
Motorists can simply place their fingers on the harness, where it rests on the child’s collarbone.
If the strap material can be pinched together and folded, then this means the harness is too loose.
Drivers should adjust the strap so the material can no longer be pinched together.
Going from rear to forward-facing too soon:
In a bid to keep a watchful eye on children, many parents choose to move their babies into a forward-facing seat as soon as they reach the minimum age and weight suitability at nine months or 9kg.
As young children are still developing, their neck, head, and spine are fragile and, if placed in a forward-facing position too soon, risk injuring these vulnerable areas.
The harness should be adjusted as children grow.
If the strap height doesn’t match the child’s height, then it can increase the amount the child’s body can move during a crash. It also increases the risk of injury.
Parents should monitor the harness strap height according to their child’s shoulders.
In rear-facing seats, the straps should come through the car seat slots below or at the same level as their shoulders.
Whereas on forward-facing seats, the straps should be above or at the same level as the shoulders.
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