Articles Tagged ‘child seat - Brake the road safety charity’

Carrying Pre-Schoolers

cycle4life_7There is a huge range of products on the market designed to transport children by bike, from front and rear-mounted child seats, to trailers, tag-alongs and tow bars. Which is the best for you depends on: your own experience and fitness; number of children; size, age of children; route choice and surface; traffic levels and danger; distance you are planning to ride. If you can, try before you buy. Most cycle hire centres stock a variety of bikes and child-seat accessories that you can test out with your children.

Be aware that child carriers increase the size of your bike, alter the balance of your bike and can make manoeuvring more challenging. Child seats on bikes aren’t safety seats with crash protection, and uncovered seats offer no protection from the elements either - a child who is not pedalling can get very cold or sunburnt so ensure they are well wrapped up / have suncream on. Trailers place your child at the level of vehicles’ wheels and exhaust fumes, and Brake consequently does not recommend they are used on roads. They can be great on off-road, well surfaced cycle trails.

Useful links reviewing cycle child carriers:
Why Cycle
London Cycling Campaign

Teaching young children to ride >>

<< Cycling with kids

<< Family cycling home page

<< Cycle4life home page



Child seats and fittings

Key facts

  • In 2015, 11 children under the age of 12 years old were killed while travelling in cars in Great Britain, 200 were seriously injured and there were 5,093 child casualties (reported to the police) in total. [1]
  • A study of Thames Valley and Hampshire revealed that in 2014 the number of children unrestrained in both the front passenger seat and rear passenger seats were lower than in 2008/9; [2]
  • Properly restrained infants are on average 12.7 times less likely to present to a trauma centre following a motor vehicle crash [3];
  • In the event of a crash, rear-facing child seats can reduce the likelihood of death and injury in young children and small infants by up to 90% [4];
  • As of March 2017 manufacturers are not allowed to develop booster cushions or backless booster seats for children shorter than 125 cm or weighing less than 22kg, parents that have already purchased booster seats matching these specifications can continue to use them for their child [5].


In 2015, 19 children under the age of 15 were killed while travelling in cars in Great Britain and 315 were seriously injured [6].

When a child is present in a moving road vehicle it is essential that the appropriate child restraints are used. Children are one of the most vulnerable road users, no matter how they travel. Their undeveloped frames are open to more severe injuries and ill-prepared to absorb the violent crash forces of a vehicular impact. Appropriate child restraints are designed to distribute crash forces with minimal damage to the soft tissues, cradle the vulnerable head and neck of the child and restrict their movement during and after impact.

Child restraints are a vital passive safety system and their effect cannot be underestimated. In 2015, a study of Thames Valley Police Authority and Hampshire Constabulary indicated that the percentage of child passengers unrestrained within a vehicle on the road had actually increased between 2008/9 and 2014 in the front and rear passenger seats [7].

It is important that the public are aware of the danger that children are in if they are not using the appropriate restraints, fitted correctly within the vehicle. An adult seat belt is not designed to protect a child. Using a properly fitted child restraint that is appropriate for the child’s size and weight reduces the risk of fatalities, and can prevent the most serious injuries in many situations [8].

Find out more: Read our advice for drivers on belting up and choosing safer vehicles.

Legal framework

In the United Kingdom, drivers are legally responsible for making sure that all passengers in their vehicle under the age of 14 are appropriately restrained. Children under the age of 12, or below 135 cm tall, are not allowed to use an adult seat belt without ‘additional restraints’ (child seats, booster chairs and booster cushions), except under legally ‘exceptional’ circumstances. [9]

Brake and other road safety professionals, strongly advise that drivers and parents ensure that all children under 150 cm tall use proper child restraints, as we believe that adult seat belts do not provide sufficient protection to children below this height [10].

Exceptions to the legal requirement for child restraints in moving road vehicles include [11]:

  • Taxis, hire cars and mini buses: When the child is travelling in a taxi, hire car or mini bus and a travel seat is unavailable the child is not require to wear an appropriate restraint. However. If a child-seat is fitted within the vehicle it should be used.
  • Unexpected journeys: There are legal exemptions for short, unexpected but necessary journeys – for example an emergency hospital visit. This exemption is only applicable if the child is over the age of three and there are no correct child restraints available. If the child is under the age of three they cannot legally travel in the vehicle without appropriate child restraints.
  • Emergency vehicles: Children can travel in emergency service vehicles, such as police cars and ambulances, without using child restraints if appropriate restraints are not available.

Regulating child restraints

Child seat development and classification is primarily legally controlled by United Nations ECE Regulation No.44 and the more recent United Nations ECE regulation No.129, introduced in 2013. Each of these regulations specify standards that both child restraints and the vehicles they are placed in must adhere to, to ensure children using the restraint are to remain secure and protected when on the move.

Currently, only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK, recognisable by the capital ‘E’ label in in a circle fixed to the product. This regulation will undoubtedly be affected by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in 2017, and it is important that safeguards are put in place to ensure that child restraints maintain a high standard of protection [12].

UN ECE Regulation 44 [13]

This legislation stipulates that child restraints should be approved to a required technical standard, based on the child’s height and weight as opposed to age. It sets out general specifications for child seats, the criteria for type approval and frontal crash testing and the product approval process and qualifications.

The regulation specifically requires all road vehicles to be fitted with a pair of ISOFIX ‘anchorages’ to be installed in vehicles, designed to withstand a static load of 8 kN (KiloNewtons) without deforming.

Read more: On ISOFIX systems below.

UN ECE Regulation 129 (i-Size) [14]

In 2013 UN ECE 129, known as the ‘i-Size’ legislation, was introduced to run parallel with Regulation 44, introducing two important changes to child seat legislation.

First, child restraints under the i-Size legislation are classified according to the height of a child as opposed to the weight. This was based on the assessment that it would be a more effective means of assessing the degree of protection a child seat would provide children, whose height can vary and may not always relate to their weight.

Second, the i-Size regulation requires children to travel in rear-facing child seats for longer, and these restraints can be used by parents of any age of child within the height boundaries of the product. These seats must be used for any child under 83 cm tall (typically around 15 months old). As rear-facing child seats have been proven to be safer, Regulation 129 has been a welcome development [15].

Currently, the ‘i-Size’ child seats will only fit in approved vehicles, the number of which will increase over the coming years. Eventually they will become available for all types of child seat. Brake recommends parents purchase seats meeting i-Size regulations if these are available for their vehicle.

Additional restrictions introduced include the requirement that forward-facing child restraints will not be designed to accommodate a stature below 71 cm and a convertible seat in rear-facing configuration must accommodate children up to 83cm tall.

This legislation has also introduced a requirement for these child seats to be evaluated in side-impact tests, using more advanced crash dummies that take the fragility of the child into account. A study into the new testing criteria found that analysis is now more closely focussed on the level of protection provided for the most vulnerable regions of a young child’s body in a road crash, the head/neck, abdomen and chest. [16]


The ISOFIX is a system, developed in the 1990s, provides purpose-built latches in new vehicles to enable child restraint systems to be affixed in a manner that prevents incorrect fitting and the consequences that can emerge as a result. It is widely regarded as the safest option for child restraints, and UN ECE Regulation 44 clearly specifies that ISOFIX connectors must be able to withstand a static force of 8kN [17]. 

However, a recent report from the European Council, assessing the benefits and feasibility of new technologies and the measures in place for vehicle occupant safety, highlights a problem with the ISOFIX system. The report questions whether the static load requirements of the ISOFIX is appropriate to ensure the safety of the child, as the regulations fail to consider the dynamic load rating (the level of impact force) a vehicle could experience during a crash. As a result, it is difficult to determine if the technology designed to reduce the impact of a road crash on the fragile body of a child, would adequately protect a heavier child in those situations. [18]

The EC report endorses increasing the ISOFIX anchorage strength in vehicles, possibly to 9kN or 11kN, as the most cost-beneficial solution. A decision that could prevent parents from prematurely switching their children from child seats to booster seats and the injuries that can accompany this in the event of a road crash. [19]

Although it has been a requirement for all new cars to have ISOFIX anchor points fitted, models purchased or developed before 2013 still do not have the required fittings. This accounts for many of the cars currently on the roads in the UK. [20]

Types of child restraint

There are a range of child restraint systems available, each appropriate for different sizes and weights, the legal standard for child seat labelling. Studies have shown that choosing child restraints on the basis of age is dangerous, as children do not experience growth at the same rate and two children of the same age can be markedly different in terms of height and weight [21].

The decision on which child restraint to choose should not be rushed, instead it should be carefully based on how appropriate the restraint is and whether it complies with UN legislation.

More information on the types of child restraint currently on the market is available below:

Rear-facing child seats

Rear-facing child restraints are commonly used for children weighing between 0-13kg, preferred by parents of very young or small children to ensure their safety in a moving vehicle [22]. Research suggests that rear-facing seats reduce the risk of death or injury in a crash by up to 90% [23].

These restraint systems are increasingly being equipped to carry older children following the introduction of the I-Size restraint [24].

If a rear-facing child seat is fitted in the front passenger seat it is vitally important that that the driver checks if there is a front passenger seat air bag, and if there is that it is disabled. If an airbag deploys with a rear-facing child restraint in that seat, it is likely that this will result in catastrophic head injuries for the child and could kill them. If the air bag for the front passenger seat cannot be switched off, rear-facing child seats MUST be placed in the rear passenger seats of the vehicle [25].

Rear-facing child seats are generally grouped into three categories, relating to the height or weight of the child [26]:

  • Group 0: Rear-facing child restraints classed as ‘Group 0’ are suitable for children weighing 0-10kg, a figure generally understood to be appropriate for new-born children up until the age of 6-9 months. However, this is not always the case and it is important that parents purchase a car seat on the basis of weight or height, not age, which can be inaccurate.
  • Group +0: Rear-facing child restraints identified as ‘Group +0’ are systems designed to support and protect children weighing between 0-13kg.
  • I-Size: The rear-facing ‘I-size’ restraints determine suitability based on the height of the child as opposed to their weight. I-Size child restraints were developed in response to UN ECE Regulation 129 and are designed to fit in any car. This system is seen by many road safety professionals as the most appropriate way of matching a child to a restraint as parents in particular are more likely to be aware of their child’s height rather than their weight.  

Forward-facing child seats [27]

Forward-facing child seats, also known as Group 1 child seats, are suitable for children weighing between 9-18kg. This is typically understood as referring to children between the ages of 10 months and three to four years old.

Forward-facing child restraints integrate a ‘five-point seatbelt’ to protect the child within the vehicle. Some of these seats are capable of being fitted in both the front passenger seat and the rear passenger seats, however, if the child restraint is fitted in the front of the vehicle, the passenger air bag (if present) MUST be switched off.

Combination seats [28]

These are car seats that can be both forward and rearward facing. Group 0+ and 1 can be used for children weighing between 0-18 kg and Group 0+, 1 and 2 are appropriate for children weighing from 0-25kg.

High-backed booster seats [29]

High-backed booster seats are designed to be suitable for children weighing between 15-25kg, typically aged 4-6 years. Older children can use booster seats, or booster cushions, and those designed for older children (Group 1, 2 and 3) can carry children weighing 9-36kg.

These seats allow the use of the vehicle’s existing three-point seat belt to secure the child safely. Booster seats have a back and provide side protection, giving greater protection if the vehicle is in a side-on collision.

Booster cushions

These are suitable for children 22-36 kg, typically aged 10-12 years. These are cushions that enable the vehicle’s fitted three-point seatbelt to fit across the child’s hips and shoulders. They don’t have the back and sides of a booster seat. [30]

Remember: As of March 2017, new laws will be implemented that prevent manufacturers from developing booster cushions and backless booster seats for use by children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg [31].

These new regulations will not affect existing models of booster seats, and those currently in use that meet the pre-2017 standards can still be used. [32]

According to TRL, one of the main reasons for this change in regulation is “to ensure that in side impact, a child is either protected by the child restraint or the vehicle restraint system… children under 125cm…will not be positioned in such a way that the vehicle can provide protection and therefore this role must be fulfilled by the child restraint”. [33]

Parents should pay close attention to manufacturer’s labels and instructions when purchasing a booster seat, ensuring that it is appropriate for the child’s height and weight and adheres to the new legislation.

Take action: See our campaign pages and find out how you can get involved.

Fitting child restraints

Child passengers in crashes are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if the child is not properly restrained in their child seat. Problems in fitting the restraints include loose straps, and children being placed in a restraint too large for them. The ISOFIX system is an attempt to prevent the child restraint being incorrectly fitted within the vehicle and evidence suggests that they have largely been successful in doing this. [34]

A study in 2014 assessed US crash data from collisions involving child car passengers over a five year period. The report found that that properly restrained infants were 12.7 times less likely to present to a trauma centre after a motor vehicle crash. However, the likelihood of traumatic brain injuries in infants involved in a high speed crash was similar among properly restrained and improperly restrained infants. Clearly indicating that effective restraint systems are one aspect of a wider system, and if children are to travel safely we must have safer roads, safer vehicles and safer drivers. [35]  

End notes

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016
[2] The effectiveness of roads policing strategies, TRL, 2015
[3] Stewart, C. et al., Infant car safety seats and risk of head injury, 2014
[4] Jakkobson, L. et al. Safety for the Growing Child – Experiences from Swedish accident data, 2005
[5] New child car seats, Department for Transport, 2017
[6] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016
[7] The effectiveness of roads policing strategies, TRL, 2015
[8] Elvik R et al., The handbook of road safety measures, (2nd ed.), 2009
[9] Seat belts: the law,, updated 2016
[10] Ibid
[11] Ibid
[10] Regulation No 44 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE) — Uniform provisions concerning the approval of restraining devices for child occupants of powerdriven vehicles (‘Child Restraint Systems’), United Nations, 2010
[11] Uniform provisions concerning the approval of enhanced Child Restraint Systems used on board of motor vehicles (ECRS), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 129
[12] Child car seats: the law, Department for Transport, 2017
[13] Regulation No 44 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE): Uniform provisions concerning the approval of restraining devices for child occupants of power-driven vehicles (‘Child Restraint Systems’), United Nations, 2010
[14] Regulation No 129 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE) — Uniform provisions concerning the approval of enhanced Child Restraint Systems used on board of motor vehicles (ECRS), European Commission, 2014
[15] UN Regulation 129 Increasing the safety of children in vehicles: For policy-makers and concerned citizens, UNECE, 2016
[16] Cuerden, R. et al., New UN regulation on child restraint systems – assessment of amendments to the new regulation, front and side impact procedures and Q-Series dummy family injury criteria: Final report, TRL, 2014
[17] Regulation No 44 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE): Uniform provisions concerning the approval of restraining devices for child occupants of power-driven vehicles (‘Child Restraint Systems’), European Commission, 2010
[18] Hynd, D. et al, Benefit and Feasibility of a Range of New Technologies and Unregulated Measures in the fields of Vehicle Occupant Safety and Protection of Vulnerable Road Users Final report, European Commission, European Commission, 2015
[19] Ibid
[20] End of life vehicles: average vehicle age, SMMT, 2016
[21] Cuerden, R. et al., New UN regulation on child restraint systems – assessment of amendments to the new regulation, front and side impact procedures and Q-Series dummy family injury criteria: Final report, TRL, 2014
[22] Vehicles: Child restraint systems, the Road Safety Observatory, 2015
[23] Jakkobson, L. et al. Safety for the Growing Child – Experiences from Swedish accident data, 2005
[24] UN Regulation 129 Increasing the safety of children in vehicles: For policy-makers and concerned citizens, UNECE, 2016
[25] The Highway Code: seatbelts and child restraints (Rule 101), Department for Transport, 2016
[26] Vehicles: Child restraint systems, the Road Safety Observatory, 2015
[27] Ibid
[28] Ibid
[29] Ibid
[30] Ibid
[31]New child car seats, Department for Transport, 2017
[32] Ibid
[33] Robinson, T.,Shining a light on the impending changes to car seat legislation, TRL, 2016
[34] Hynd, D. et al,Benefit and Feasibility of a Range of New Technologies and Unregulated Measures in the fields of Vehicle Occupant Safety and Protection of Vulnerable Road Users Final report, European Commission, 2015
[35] Stewart, C. et al.,Infant car safety seats and risk of head injury, 2014

Page updated: March 2017 

Driver advice: seat belts and child restraints


Drivers can pledge to – make sure everyone in their vehicle is belted upon every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint.

Everyone can pledge to– always belt up, and make sure friends and family do too.

Seat belts

Seat belts are simple to put on and can save your life. They stop you being thrown around the vehicle, or out of it, in a crash. It's estimated by transport researchers that a three-point seat belt halves risk of death in a crash.

SeatbeltAlways wear a seat belt, even on short journeys. Even if you're just driving around the corner, it could still be a life-saver, and it's still the law.

Make sure you have enough three-point seat belts for everyone travelling in your vehicle. Never squeeze extra people in without belts, or sharing the same belt.

Before setting off, make it a habit to check that everyone in your vehicle is belted up. Seat belt use is lower among back seat passengers. An unrestrained back seat passenger is a danger to other people in the vehicle as well as themselves. 

Three-point belts are far safer than lap belts (which only have one strap going across your lap). The shoulder strap on a three-point belt stops your body being flung forward in a crash, which can result in horrific injuries. If you use an older vehicle with a lap belt in a particular seat, don't use that seat.

Head restraints

Make sure everyone's heads and necks are protected by a head restraint. If a head restraint is missing, wobbly, or too low, it won’t protect someone's neck from whiplash injuries that can debilitate or kill. If a seat does not have a head restraint, don't use that seat. 

Head restraints should be adjusted so the top is about level with the top of the person's head and right up against the back of their head, so their head won’t be able to fly backwards in a crash. 

Before setting off, make it a habit to check everyone has their head restraint properly adjusted. 

Child passengers up to 150cm tall 

Drivers are legally responsible for ensuring child passengers are belted up and in a restraint compliant with the law. 

Children up to 150cm tall should be secured in a child restraint suitable for their height and weight. If they are not, they are at far greater risk of serious injury or death in a crash. 

Follow the advice below:

  • Use the appropriate child restraint for a child's size and weight.
  • Use new. A second-hand restraint could be damaged in ways you can’t see.
  • Buy the best seat on the market with the most safety features. Your child's life is priceless.
  • Restraints should carry the United Nations ‘E’ mark or a BS ‘Kitemark’.
  • Rear-facing seats are safer for babies. Do not move them up to their next restraint system until they are too tall or heavy for their rear-facing baby seat.
  • If it’s possible to do so in line with the fitting instructions, fit your child seat in the middle of the rear of your car, furthest away from the exterior.
  • Fit right. Fit your child restraint with care in line with the fitting instructions. If unsure, seek help from the manufacturer or supplier.
  • Sit right. Before every trip, check your child's restraint is still fitted correctly. Take care to ensure that the belt is correctly threaded and snug fitting. 
  • The top of your child’s head should never come above the top of their child seat.
  • If you have an old car with few safety features, change it for a car that has high star ratings for safety. See EuroNCAP for star ratings.
  • Take trains for long journeys and get out and walk for short journeys. Trains are safer, and walking helps save the planet. 


  • Carry someone else’s child unless you are certain they are in a restraint that is correct for their height and weight and properly fitted.
  • Allow your child to be carried in someone else’s vehicle unless they are in a restraint appropriate for their size and weight and properly fitted.
  • Carry extra kids with no restraints or seat belts, even on short journeys.
  • Hold a baby or child; they will fly out of your hands in a crash.
  • Put a baby or child inside your own seat belt with you - they will be crushed by the weight of your body in a crash.

If a child is over 150cm and is able to do up their own seat belt, you still have the responsibility for checking they have done so correctly, and the seatbelt is tight. Explain to children they mustn’t fiddle with or undo seat belts, and the reasons why.

Children under 150cm on school trips

If you have a child under 150cm going on a school or pre-school trip by coach or minibus, will they be appropriately restrained? Talk to your child's teacher and ask to see their transport safety policy. Ensure it requires the school or pre-school to hire a modern vehicle with three point seat belts and that your child will be securely fitted in the correct child restraint for their height and weight (either your own seat or one supplied by the transport company). 

pregnantdiagramIf using your own child restraint, you will need to check your child restraint is appropriate to fit in the vehicle being used.

Do not allow your child to travel on an old coach with only lap belts, or in someone else's car with inadequate restraints.

Direct teachers to our page trips in vehicles, which has guidance for them.

Wearing a seat belt during pregnancy

It’s important to continue wearing a seatbelt while pregnant. You should wear the lap part of the seat belt under your bump (see our diagram, right). Consider public transport when you can. You are far less likely to be involved in a crash on a train or bus. Walking is also a great exercise during pregnancy; leave the car at home for short journeys.

Page updated December 2017


Family cycling

Winn Solicitors is pleased to support Brake. Visit our site>

cycle4life_6You may be getting back on your bike after many years because you have young children and they want to cycle. Or you may be a frequent cyclist wanting to fit your first child seat to your bike. Or you may be interested in having a family cycling holiday for the first time. This section of the site gives you practical tips on cycling as a family, whatever your needs and aspirations.

Cycling with your kids
Carrying pre-schoolers
Teaching young children to ride
Family cycling holidays


<< Cycle4life home page



This page is kindly supported by:

Winn solicitors

Fitting child seats

Children who are under 150cm in height are safest in a correctly-fitted child seat that is correct for their height and weight. This brings complexities with it when organising group transport, that need to be considered. Please note that this page has a lot of content. You may want to print it off rather than read on screen.

Are you sure you can use child seats in your vehicle?

Before hiring a vehicle in which you intend to use child seats, you need to be sure that the vehicle is designed to carry the child seats you will be using. Ask the provider of the vehicle to tell you the make and type of vehicle they are providing, and ask them to provide written confirmation from the manufacturer that this make and type of vehicle is compatible with child seats for the age range of children you intend to be carried.

Are you fitting and sitting correctly?

Child seats must also be fitted following the seats’ manufacturers’ instructions using the 3-point belts. Presuming the vehicle is compatible, a child’s own seat, brought from their own car, could be fitted by their parent who is familiar with the fitting instructions. It is equally important that the child is securely and correctly seated and buckled into the seat. Alternatively, you might want the fitting and sitting to be done by an adult carer (because the parent is not around). If the latter is to happen, then the carer should ask parents to provide their seat’s instruction manual. It is also recommended that the carer has received professional training on fitting child seats. Some local authorities provide this training: contact your local authority and ask for their expert on child seats in their road safety unit. If your road safety unit cannot provide training, ask if they know any private providers of training who are reputable (they need to be able to demonstrate to you that they have appropriate, up to date qualifications and experience). If your road safety unit can’t help you, ring neighbouring councils until you find someone.

Sometimes, transport providers provide child seats for you. If child seats are being provided by the transport provider and not by parents, it is important that they are correct for the children’s height and weight. You should check the range of heights and weights of children to be carried, find out the type and make of the child seats, and confirm that they are correct for your children and have not been involved in a crash. It remains important that you confirm that the vehicle you are using is designed to carry these child seats, and that these child seats are fitted correctly and that children are buckled up correctly in them, in line with the seats’ manufacturer’s instructions. This means that if you are fitting the child seats or seating the children yourself you will need access to these instructions.

Tips when using parents’ own child seats

  • Ensure children’s child seats are labelled by parents so they don’t get muddled, with the instruction manuals also labelled if you are ‘fitting and sitting’ yourself.
  • For children whose parents do not have a car and therefore do not have a car seat, you need a couple of extra, modern child seats to hand that are spare and appropriate for the height and weight of your children. You may also need spares in case parents forget.

Lesson idea for younger children

Follow this link to a Brake lesson idea on child seats including a link to a ‘letter home’ that you can fill in and put in school bags showing each child’s height and explaining the importance of child seats, having the added benefit of reminding parents of their legal responsibilities in their cars as well as making children proud to be safe.

If you are planning not using child seats for children under 150cm tall

As stated above, as long as a vehicle is designed to take child seats it is recommended that they are used for children under 150cm tall, as long as the seats are fitted correctly and children are seated and buckled up correctly. Some adults organising trips for children face logistical difficulties in using child seats. If you can obtain the use of a modern vehicle that is designed to take child seats, Brake strongly recommends that you work to overcome these difficulties. It is invariably worth overcoming these difficulties in the interests of child safety. However, if, against the advice in this guidance, you are not using child seats it is very important that you belt up children using the fitted 3-point belts. To repeat advice earlier given, using a vehicle with lap belts alone is wholly inadequate for these small, young children, and it is usually possible to hire a vehicle with 3-point belts. It is important, if only using 3-point belts, to place, and keep, the lap section across the hard, pelvic area and NOT the stomach of the child, and the diagonal section across their shoulder and NOT their neck. You may find this very hard to achieve because the children are so small - bear this in mind when considering whether to undertake this option rather than use child seats. Some vehicles are fitted with all-generation 3-point belts, where the diagonal section can be lowered so that it fits across a child’s shoulder rather than their neck.

You should never put a seat belt around an adult and a child on your lap; in an impact, your weight would crush the child.
You should never just hold a child - you can’t hold onto them in a crash.

For children who are 150cm or taller, who can travel just using 3-point seat belts, it is important that the lap section of the belt goes across the hard, pelvic area and NOT the stomach, and the diagonal section goes across the shoulder and NOT their neck. Accompanying adults should ensure children keep their belts ON and correctly positioned during the whole duration of the trip. With these older children, it is sensible to provide them with a briefing, immediately before your trip, about the importance of wearing seat belts correctly throughout the trip.

General guidance on fitting child seats (not to replace formal training)

  • Not all child seats fit all vehicles. Check with the manufacturer of the seat and the vehicle.
  • Do not use a child seat that you do not know the history of; it may have been involved in a crash or damaged in some other way.

Infant Carriers (Group 0 & 0+)

  • Infant carriers must only be fitted facing the rear of a vehicle.
  • READ the instructions, check seat belt is routed correctly.
  • Ensure the seat belt webbing is pulled as tightly as possible with no slack, so there is no excessive movement.
  • Keep children in rear facing seats as long as possible, this is the safest position. As a guide, they should only be moved up when their head reaches the top of the seat NOT because their legs look too long.
  • Never use a rearward facing child seat on a passenger seat fitted with an airbag.

Forward Facing Seat (Group 1)

  • READ the instructions, check seat belt is routed correctly.
  • Once fitted, kneel in the seat to pull any slack out of the seatbelt; check there is no movement by pulling the child seat harness.
  • Ensure no part of the buckle rests on the frame of the seat as it could break on impact (buckle crunching).
  • Do not move a child into this seat unless they can sit up unaided for a length of time.
  • Shoulder straps should be level with child’s shoulders and harness comfortable but firm (and not twisted), lying over child’s pelvic area.
  • Only move the child up to the next stage seat when the top of their head reaches above the top of the seat.
  • It is recommended that all child seats are fitted into the back of cars.

Forward Facing Seat /Booster (Group 2/3)

  • Do not use this stage too soon as children are only restrained by the adult seat belt.
  • Ensure the diagonal belt lies across the child’s shoulder (not the neck) and the lap belt across the pelvic area (not the abdomen).
  • If the seat has a back, use as long as possible until child reaches weight limit or becomes too tall, as it gives side protection.
  • Check child’s top of head is not above the seat back as this could lead to whiplash injuries

New film from road safety charity calls on drivers to keep children safe in cars by using child seats

News from Brake
Wednesday 27 June 2018

  • Children should sit in a correctly sized child seat until they are 150cm tall
  • 30-second animation can be viewed here
  • 40,000 children take part in a Beep Beep! Day across UK

Road safety charity Brake has created a new short, animated film to help promote the importance of using child seats in cars.

The film uses simple, fun imagery to show why it’s so important for children to sit in correctly sized and fitted restraints. Crucially, it reminds drivers of the need to use child seats in cars until a child is 150cm tall. Although the law states that children should be seated in an appropriate restraint until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall [1], Brake and other road safety professionals recommend that child seats are used until they are 150cm tall. It is widely regarded that adult seat belts do not provide enough protection to children below that height [2].

The film is part of a suite of resources created by the charity and Churchill Car Insurance for schools, nurseries, playgroups and childminders running a Beep Beep! Day.

The Beep Beep! Day project, now in its 15th year, aims to engage children with road safety basics through fun activities, while raising awareness among parents and the wider community about protecting children on roads.

On Wednesday 27 June, more than 40,000 children, aged 2–7, are due to take part in a Beep Beep! Day across the UK.

Brake produces free and low-cost resources for educators to use, as well as advice for them to pass on to grown-ups. In 2017, more than 2,000 nurseries, schools and childminders registered to take part in a Beep Beep! Day, helping spread important messages to more than 350,000 children.

Beep Beep! Days take place three times a year. In March, nearly 19,000 children took part in the project, and even more have signed up to get involved on Wednesday 21 November – during UK Road Safety Week.

Beep Beep! Days also provide an ideal opportunity for nurseries, schools and childminders to fundraise for Brake, by encouraging children to dress in stripy clothes in exchange for donations. Funds raised help the charity to campaign for safer roads and support people who have been bereaved or seriously injured following a road crash.

To find out more or register for a Beep Beep! Day,, call 01484 550061 or email

Dave Nichols, community engagement manager at Brake, said:“An adult seat belt is not designed to protect a child. Using a properly fitted child restraint that is appropriate for the child’s height reduces the risk of death and can help to prevent serious injuries. Beep Beep! Days are a great way to start talking to children about basic road safety messages, but they are also an ideal opportunity for us to get important messages home to grown-ups – and that includes using correctly fitted child seats. It’s fantastic that so many children are taking part in a Beep Beep! Day today and we hope educators will enjoy using our new resources to support this cause.”

Sophie Frampton, manager at Churchill Car Insurance, said:“We are very proud to be supporting Beep Beep! Day once again this year. The new video adds to the wide range of resources made available to those participating, to not only make this a fun day, but a day that makes a difference and hopefully saves lives. Too many children die or are seriously injured on our roads each week. Beep Beep! Day is a great way of starting to talk to young children about road safety, as well as raising awareness among drivers, including parents and grandparents, of the need to drive with extreme care when young children are about.”

*** images available on request be emailing ***


Notes to Editors:


  2. Regulation No 44 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE) — Uniform provisions concerning the approval of restraining devices for child occupants of power-driven vehicles (‘Child Restraint Systems’), United Nations, 2010

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths, serious injuries and pollution occurring on our roads every day. We work to make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake's vision is a world where there are zero road deaths and injuries, and people can get around in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. We do this by pushing for legislative change through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog and use #beepbeepday

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

About Churchill

Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.  

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting