Child car seats
The law says that all children up to 135cm tall (around 4'5"), or the age of 12, whichever comes first, in the front or rear seats in cars, vans and other goods vehicles must travel in the correct child restraint for their weight with very few exceptions.
In a crash at just 30 mph, an unrestrained child would be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight. They would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and quite possibly seriously injuring (or even killing) other people inside the vehicle. They are also likely to be ejected from the car through one of the windows.
It is not safe to hold a child on your lap. In a crash, the child could be crushed between your body and part of the car's interior. Even if you are using a seat belt, the child would be torn from your arms - you would not be able to hold onto them, no matter how hard you try.
It is also dangerous to put a seat belt around yourself and a child (or around two children). The safest way for children to travel in cars is in a child seat that is suitable for their weight and size.
For further information on using child seats safely, please visit Child Car Seats.
Second hand car seats
Although it may seem a good bargain to buy or use a second hand car seat we recommend you avoid these unless:
1. You know their full history including where it has been previously stored, what it has been cleaned with etc
2. You are sure that they have not been involved in a collision. Even a bump at a very low speed can cause damage to the seat which may not be easily visible.
3. You receive correct, written fitting instructions and all labels are still on the car seat. Not all car seats are fit the same way therefore fitting instructions are essential. An incorrectly fitted car seat may not protect your child in a collision.
4. It is not more than 6 years old (this is the average lifespan of a child seat). The plastic shell, polystyrene impact protection, buckles and harnesses can all significantly deteriorate over time.
5. You try before you buy. Not all car seats fit all cars despite what it may say on the manufacturer’s website. You need to be confident it perfectly fits you child, your car and offers the safest protection.
Please do not add to the problem by selling or giving away your used car seat. Would you be comfortable telling someone that the car seat is 100% safe? In order to reduce the chance of any car seat being re-used please cut the harnesses before you dispose of them.
Warning - if you have been involved in a collision
A car seat that was used in a vehicle during a collision should not be used again. Regardless of how the seat looks or how old it is, possible unseen damage may make the seat less effective in another collision and cause serious injury to a child. Check with the seat’s manufacturer regarding replacement after a collision and your car insurance company about their seat replacement policy.