• Freedom of Information reveals there were more than 4,600 incidents of UK drivers not adhering to child seatbelt laws in 2015, with over 19,000 offences recorded between 2013 and 2015 (1)
  • Over half (56%) admitted they were unaware of the new laws about backless booster seats that came into force earlier this year – and only 13% actually knew what they were ahead of the law’s introduction
  • Worryingly, over a third (34%) of parents admit to occasionally not using a booster seat for their child
  • Tanya Robinson, Child Safety Centre Manager at TRL advises parents the best way to ensure their child is in the appropriate seat.

New child booster seat laws were introduced on 1st March 2017 and yet parents still don’t know the right height, age and weight regulations when it comes to their children's car seats. Worryingly, over half (56%) were unaware of the new booster seat regulations that came into force and of those who were aware 87% did not understand the changes. Freedom of Information data requested by motoring experts reveals there were 4,646 incidents of UK drivers not adhering to child seatbelt laws in 2015, with a total of 19,358 offences recorded between 2013 and 2015(1).

As the past UK law stood, all children travelling in a vehicle had to 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 (2). Under the new rules that came into force in March, 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, the backless booster seats bought before the law changed can still be used as the regulation will only apply to new products appearing on the market. Perplexed? Well you are not alone.

The research commissioned by 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 (3) 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.’s motoring editor Amanda Stretton says:

“If the old regulations weren’t hard enough to understand, the new changes may make it even trickier for parents to keep their children safe. The fact that car seats bought before the law changed are still 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(4). 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”

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 affects 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 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.

"The best advice for parents is to always check the markings on the child seat to help identify if the child seat is appropriate for your child. Parents should also remember that not all car seats are designed to be the same. The instructions that apply to one car seat may not apply to other seats. Always read the manual for your car seat."


Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research are carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK parents who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 07/11/2016 and 14/11/2016.

  1. issued an FOI request to all 45 Police Forces in England, Scotland and Wales. Of these 33 responded. The FOI request asked Police Forces:

Please can you provide figures for over the past 3 years relating to the below offences recorded by your police force (2013, 2014 & 2015).

  1. Carry child in rear-facing restraint in front seat w/o deactivated airbag
  2. Child front - Failing to wear seat belt
  3. Child rear - Failing to wear seat belt
  4. Drive motor vehicle with child U. 3 yrs not wearing rear seat belt
  5. Rear seat belt not fitted - child under 12 year and not 150 cm tall
  6. Adult front passenger - Failing to wear seat belt
  7. Adult rear passenger - Failing to wear seat belt
  8. Driver - Failing to wear seat belt

About TRL’s Child Safety Centre

TRL’s Child Safety Centre specialises in the safety of children in vehicles. It is the UK’s only independent accredited laboratory offering the type approval of child restraint systems, as well as product development and consultancy and training for manufacturers and retailers.

About TRL

TRL is the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility. It provides world-leading research, technology and software solutions for surface transport modes and related markets of automotive, motorsport, insurance and energy.

Independent from government, industry and academia, TRL helps organisations create global transport systems that are safe, clean, affordable, liveable and efficient. Core areas of expertise include transport safety; vehicle engineering & simulation; investigations & major incident forensics; human factors & behavioural science; intelligent transport systems; infrastructure asset management; and sustainability & climate change.

Established in 1933 within the British Government as the UK's Transport Research Laboratory, TRL was subsequently privatised in 1996. Today, TRL has more than 1,000 clients across 145 countries, driving positive societal and economic benefit worldwide.

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