New seat belt rules announced

The government has announced proposed new regulations concerning the use of seat belts and child restraints.

The new regulations require the use of an appropriate restraint in any car or goods vehicle for all children less than three years of age.

Children aged 3 and above and up to 4ft 5in in height would have to use an appropriate child restraint in cars or goods vehicles fitted with seat belts.

The regulations also state that rear-facing baby seats must not be used in seats with active frontal air bags and state that the number of people carried in the rear of vehicles fitted with seat belts must not exceed the number of available seat belts and restraints.

The regulations will now need to be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Commenting on the regulations, Road Safety Minister Stephen Ladyman said that the changes could prevent over 2,000 child deaths or injuries each year. He said: "Most people make sure that children use some kind of restraint when travelling on the road, but it is vitally important to use the right one; and not to use an adult belt before the child is big enough.

"Small children need the protection that baby seats and child seats are designed to provide. Seat belts are designed for adults. Children who have grown out of child seats still need to use booster seats and booster cushions."

Seat belt wearing has been compulsory in cars and light vans from 1983 in the front and in the rear since 1989 for children and 1991 for adults. It has been compulsory in other vehicles in front seats since 1993.

Drivers are responsible for seat belt wearing and use of appropriate child restraints for children under 14.

Those who do not observe the regulations face a £30 fixed penalty notice or a maximum fine of £500 if the case goes to court.


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