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    Q379: What are the rules with regards to baby seats / child restraints in a car?

    Front seat

    Rear seat

    Who is responsible?


    Seat belt MUST be worn if available.


    Child up to 3 years*

    Correct child restraint MUST be used*.

    Correct child restraint MUST be used*. If one is not available in a taxi, may travel unrestrained.


    Child from 3rd birthday up to 135cms in height (approx 4'5") (or 12th birthday whichever they reach first)**

    Correct child restraint MUST be used***.

    Where seat belts are fitted, correct child restraint MUST be used. Must use adult belt if the correct child restraint is not available:
    · in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle; or
    · for a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity; or
    · two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of a third.

    A child 3 and over may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not available.


    Child over 1.35 metres (approx 4ft 5ins in height) or 12 or 13 years

    Seat belt MUST be worn if available.

    Seat belt MUST be worn if available.


    Adult passengers (ie 14 years and over)

    Seat belt MUST be worn if available.

    In addition, the revised regulations also say that rear-facing baby seats MUST NOT be used in a seat protected by a frontal air-bag unless the air-bag has been deactivated manually or automatically.

    * Children under 3 years MUST use the child restraint appropriate for their weight in all cars, vans and other goods vehicles, with the single exception for the rear of taxis. They cannot travel otherwise. This means for example that they may not travel in cars, vans or goods vehicles which do not have seat belts installed.

    ** Examples. A 7 year old who is 140 cm tall is over the height for a child restraint and may use an adult seat belt. A 12 year old who is 130 cm tall is over the age threshold and therefore may use an adult belt.

    *** If no seat belts are fitted in the front, then children under 135 cm in height (who are also under 12 years of age) cannot travel in the front.

    In relation to backless booster seats, please see the link in the 'Questions' section in the right-hand margin.

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