Travelling in a car with children requires additional care and attention so that everyone stays as safe as possible. All parents and guardians want to ensure that children travelling with them on the roads are safe, and checking that they are properly secured helps to reduce any risks.

There are a few things to consider when planning a journey with a child, including what form of child restraint is most suitable. By law, all children travelling in a car, van or lorry must sit in a suitable child car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm in height – whichever happens first.1 It is also then important to make sure that it is fitted correctly and that the child is securely strapped in.


What restraints are available?

In the Think! advice for driving with children, ‘child restraint’ is a “baby seat, child seat, booster seat or booster cushion”, depending on which is most suitable.

The AA recommends that keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible, rather than rushing to move them on into a bigger, forward-facing seat, is usually safer. However, it is illegal to carry a rear-facing child seat in the front of your car if there is an active front passenger airbag, so make sure you take note of your airbag functions and consider these when deciding where a child should sit.


Why are child restraints needed?

In an accident all people in a car are in danger, and this is amplified for children if they are not properly secured in a seat. Think! states that even in a minor crash, an unrestrained child would be thrown about inside the vehicle – injuring themselves and others.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents advises that it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that any children under the age of 14 are correctly and safely secured in a car, according to the law. Drivers can be fined if a child under this age does not wear a seatbelt or the correct child restraint. Anyone 14 and over must pay the fine themselves.


The consequences

Failing to make sure children are secure and safe in your car can have serious consequences, including the possibility of criminal and civil proceedings if you are in an accident whilst someone else’s child is in the car. The most serious consequence though is of course potential loss of life, so it is vital to make sure that you do everything you can to keep children safe whilst on the roads.