Child Car Seats and Rental Cars – What You Need to Know

child car seatThe safety of your children when hiring and driving one of our vehicles is just as important to us as it is to you. With new UK child car seat laws now in force, being clued up on the latest legislation is vital, especially when hiring a rental car. First revealed back in 2016, the new laws could see parents fined up to £500 if they are caught out. Here at Collison Vehicle Rental, we keep up with the latest rules and regulations so we can provide the most up-to-date advice on vehicle safety.

Read on to discover all you need to know about the use of child car seats and how it will affect your vehicle rental experience.

What do the new laws mean for parents and their children?

As of 1stMarch 2017, all children aged 12 years or under or measuring less than 4’ 5’’ tall must sit in a car seat. The new rules mean car seats are no longer restricted to use by babies. Older, bigger children are now by law required to sit in a backless booster seat from the age of three and a half years old – that is if they measure above 4’ 1’’ tall and weigh more than 22kg. Due to the lack of head and side protection offered by backless booster seats, these children could suffer significantly more trauma in the event of an accident.

Babies aged 15 months or under should sit in a rear facing car seat and after this age can sit facing the front or back of the vehicle. Newborn babies and babies weighing 9kg or less must be seated in a baby carrier, not a car seat. The new rules also stipulate when to upgrade to a bigger car seat. If your child’s head exceeds the top of the seat or they can hold their head up unaided for at least 30 minutes, you should upgrade from a baby carrier or smaller child’s car seat to a bigger one.

I bought a seat that is now unsuitable, what should I do?

The new laws relate mainly to the use of backless booster seats, with children shorter than 4’ 1’’ and weighing less than 22kg needing to be seated in child car seats with backs. If you already own a backless booster seat and have done since before you became aware of the new rules, you can still continue to use it. The new car seat rules only relate to the new backless boosters entering the market, not seats that were approved under previous regulations before being produced, sold and utilised by parents.

Is it ever ok for my child to travel without using a car seat?

Your child’s safety is important but there are a few exceptions to the law if you don’t have a car seat to hand. Children aged three or over can travel without a car seat on emergency or unexpected journeys covering just a small distance. If you have to travel in a taxi, coach or van with your child, you can do so without a car seat if they are not travelling at the front of the vehicle. Parents with three children can forgo the third car seat if the child in question is three years old or over.

What if I need a child seat for my hire vehicle?

If you need a baby carrier or child seat when hiring a car from us and don’t already own one, don’t worry. We stock a range of high quality child seats to ensure the younger members of your family can travel safely and in complete comfort. In fact, we have a selection of extras that you can choose to buy to enhance your vehicle rental experience further. If you own a car seat already, you may want to take your own to save money and guarantee your child’s comfort in a car seat that they are already familiar with.

If you’d like to hire a baby or child car seat with your rental, or wish to discuss your rental options further, get in touchwith a member of our team.