Ahead of new child booster seat laws being introduced on March 1, data has revealed the extent of the public’s bafflement.
A total of 19,358 of these offences were recorded between 2013 and 2015.
Worryingly, new research reveals two thirds (66%) of parents do not understand the current car booster seat regulations.
Furthermore, over half (56%) are unaware of new booster seat regulations coming into force this year, and of those who are aware 87% do not understand the changes.
As the current UK law stands, all children travelling in a vehicle must use the correct car seat for their height, age and weight until they are either 12 years old or 135cm tall – whichever comes first.
Children weighing as little as 15kg (2st 4lbs) are permitted to travel in backless booster seats for reference, on average, a child of this weight is about the age of a three year-old toddler.
Under the new rules backless booster seats – also known as booster cushions will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg (3st 6.5lbs).
To make it even more complicated, backless booster seats bought before the law changes can still be used after the regulation change as it will only apply to new products appearing on the market.
Perplexed? Well you are not alone.
The research commissioned by Confused.com into parents’ knowledge and attitudes towards booster seats and seat belts reveals over a third (34%) of parents admit to occasionally not using a booster seat for their child.
Excuses from parents include not transferring the booster seat when switching to another car (33%), believing their child did not need one (26%) and believing it was not needed as they were just making a short trip (25%).
Even for parents who use a booster seat, the law can be contentious, as debates are raging on social media over what is considered to be safe.
Whereas nearly half (46%) believe booster seats with backs are safer, one in six (16%) believe backless booster seats offer the same level of protection.
Research also suggested a cynical, 30% of parents believe increased booster regulations are a result of lobbying by profit driven car seat manufacturers.
Confused.com’s motoring editor Amanda Stretton says: The current regulations are understandably hard to understand and the new changes may make it even trickier for parents to keep their children safe.
The fact that car seats bought before the law change will still be acceptable to use sends mixed messages.
The Government needs to simplify the messaging around backless car seat use so there is no misunderstanding over what is and is not safe.
Parents must also be aware of the potential cost consequences of having an accident with their child in the car.
Nearly half (44%) do not replace their child’s car seat after a crash. However, parents should always replace booster seats after an accident, even if there is no obvious damage, as they may become weakened and unable to provide the same level of protection should a second collision occur.
Regulatory approved car seats can cost in the region of £80 to £350.
If parents are caught travelling with their child in the car without the correct booster for their age, height and weight, they could face a £100 fine.
For more information on the new booster requirements and how to comply with the law, visit Confused.com.
Tanya Robinson, Child Safety Centre Manager at TRL, added: There is a large amount of uncertainty among parents and carers about the latest changes to child restraint regulations. Whilst this latest change will affect the types of child restraint available in future, there is not going to be a ban on boosters.
What it means is that new booster cushions approved and coming to market after the upcoming change to Regulation 44 will only be suitable for children over 22kg and 125cm height.
However, TRL recommend, where possible, to use a high back booster seat.
Regardless of the detail of the regulations, it is vital that parents ensure that their child is in the correct type of seat for their height and weight, as this will allow for maximum protection in the event of an accident.
Parents faced with the growing range and style of seats should remember there is no race to move a child into the next type of seat because they get older.
Ensure that the car seat you choose is appropriate for your child’s weight, height and age and that it fits well in your vehicle.