Still completely baffled by the latest car seat law change? This should help clear it up.
With recent data from Confused.com finding that only 13% of parents understand the new law change for backless booster car seats, we caught up with Damon Marriott, car seat safety expert at Joie, to get the inside track on exactly what it means for you and your child.
What is this new law change?
Car seat manufacturers are no longer allowed to bring to market backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or under 22kg. As a rough estimate, this is approximately the size of a six-year-old. Manufacturers will still be making backless booster seats, but only for children taller than 125cm or heavier than 22kg. Your child’s age isn’t a factor in this new law – only their height and weight.
When and why is it happening?
It’s already happened. The reason for the change is that before 9th February 2017, the law advised parents whose children weighed 15kg or more to use backless booster seats. This was because in the event of a crash, the poor belt positioning that’s common with backless booster seats could mean that the child isn’t securely held – potentially causing neck and spinal injuries. As children as young as two fitted within this weight bracket, it was felt there wasn’t enough being done to protect them.
How does it affect parents?
If you buy a backless booster seat, you are likely to be asked to confirm your child’s height and weight to make sure the seat complies with the new law, so make sure to have this information ready. Any new products certified after 9th February 2017 should be labelled with weight and height restrictions to make choosing a seat easier.
That being said, it could get a little confusing as retailers will still be stocking and selling backless booster seats brought to market before the law change. But we feel that responsible retailers should be changing their stock over to the newly certified booster seats as soon as they become available to them.
Are old backless boosters now illegal?
No. The law doesn’t affect those already using backless booster seats, so parents are free to continue using their current seats. However, the new law is designed to increase the safety of your child, so I would always recommend high-backed boosters as the best and safest option.
Are old backless booster seats unsafe for children?
For the moment, backless boosters are still certified as safe and legal. The law is aiming to gradually phase them out as the new ones come into circulation.
However, I’d advise any parent to keep their child in some form of booster seat until they are naturally tall enough for the seat belt to fit snugly on the shoulder and hips. On average this means keeping your child in a booster seat until 150cm, or roughly aged 12. While this may be tricky, they really do provide better protection for your child in the event of a crash.
Why aren’t old backless booster seats being withdrawn from the market?
The fact is that some vehicles aren’t large enough to fit a high-backed booster seat in them. Lawmakers do not want to create an environment where some people feel they have no choice but to go without a car seat. A backless booster is better than no booster at all.