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Child Safety Seats

Child Safety Seats

Child safety

In September 2006, the regulations relating to the use of child car seats were updated. They now stipulate that all children must use the appropriate child safety restraint when travelling in a vehicle as follows:
  • Children under three years must use a child seat or booster appropriate for their weight in all vehicles (including vans and other goods vehicles)
  • Children between three and twelve years, or children under 1.35 metres in height (4 feet 5 inches) must use the appropriate child restraint in all vehicles fitted with seat belts
  • Children who have reached 1.35m in height or their 12th birthday, whichever comes first, may use an adult seat belt.  Seat belts must worn in the front and rear seats. 

It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that children under 14 years are correctly restrained. The responsibility moves to the individual passenger when over 14 years of age.

Find out more about the main types of child car seats:

All child restraints must be approved to the United nations ECE Regulation R44/03 or R44/04. 

Since April 2008 it is prohibited to use seats manufactured before 1995 and approved to regulation R44/01 and R44-02.

Before buying a child restraint, you should ask your retailer for a demonstration so you can ensure that it fits properly into your car/cars.

Beware of old and second-hand restraints, which may be damaged, worn out, have no fitting instructions or do not meet with current standards.

Recently manufactured vehicles may have ISOFix attachment points. An ISOFix child restraint is installed using these and not the adult seat belt. Always check whether a child restraint is suitable for the ISOFix points in you car as some will differ.

rear facing seatRearward facing infant carriers

Suitable from birth up to 13 kgs (approximately birth to 9 - 12 months).

For a very young child, this is the safest type of restraint available. Rearward facing seats can be used in the front or rear of the car using the adult lap and diagonal seat belt, or by ISOFix attachment points.

The law prohibits the use of a rear-facing child restraint in the front seat of any vehicle fitted with an active frontal airbag. This is because the restraint will be too close to the dashboard and in an accident, the expanding airbag is liable to cause serious or fatal injury to the child.

forward facing seatForward facing child seats

Suitable for a child between 9kgs and 18kgs (approximately nine months - four years)

The forward facing seat is secured either by an adult seat belt, or ISOFix attachment points. The child is restrained by the seat's own harness which can be adjusted as the child grows.

Forward facing child seats can be used in the front or rear of a vehicle. If the front passenger seat is fitted with a frontal airbag, then check the car handbook for advice regarding the fitting of a car seat. Airbags are powerful devices and the car seat should be as far back as possible from an airbag.

boosterseatBooster seat

For children between 15kgs and 36 kgs (approximately four years and upwards).

A booster seat puts a child in the right position so that an adult seat belt gives most protection. Both the booster seat and the child are restrained by the adult seat belt. Booster seats have backs which provide support for the child and gives a measure of protection from whiplash injury.

booster cushionBooster cushions

For children from 22kgs (approximately six years and upwards).

The booster lifts a child and positions the adult lap and diagonal belt correctly.

Further Information

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This page was last reviewed 12 June 2013 at 11:08.
The page is next due for review 9 December 2014.