Car Travel

Knowing how to keep your child, or any child travelling in your car safe is very important. Every year around 25 children under the age of 12 are killed and 8,000 are injured while travelling in cars in Great Britain (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents - RoSPA). Many of these deaths and injuries can be prevented with the right safety measures.

Child seats and seat belts

The use of baby seats, child seats and booster seats with seat belts is a legal requirement.

In 2006 a law was passed requiring all children travelling in cars, vans and other goods vehicles to be carried in an appropriate child restraint from birth until they are either 135cms/4’5’’ tall or 12 years old - whichever they reach first. Children must use a seat belt.


Consequences of not following child seat and seat belt laws

It is the drivers’ responsibility to make sure that a child under the age of 14 is using an appropriate car seat or wearing a seat belt.

If you are convicted of not ensuring that a child travelling with you is in the correct child seat or using a seat belt, you could be fined up to £500. In addition, not following the legal requirements could affect any claims against your motor insurance. If you are carrying someone else’s child you could also be sued for damages.

The most serious consequence to not following the legal requirements is that a child could be killed in an accident.


There may be times where you will travel with your child in a taxi. 

Seat belts and child restraints

If your child is under 3 years of age. It is a legal requirement that the correct child restraint is used in the front seat. In the rear/back seat of a taxi it is advisable to use the correct child restraint but, if one is not available your child can travel unrestrained.

If your child is aged between 3 and 12 (or up to 135cm in height) it is a legal requirement that the correct child restraint is used in the front seat. In the rear/back seat it is advisable that the correct child restraint is used. However, if there is not one available, your child must wear the seat belt provided in the rear seat of the taxi.

If your child is over 12 (or over 135cm in height) they must wear a seat belt when sitting in either the front or the rear/back seat of a taxi.

Some taxi companies may be able to provide child restraints when booked in advance. For the majority that cannot it is a good idea to take your own child restraint with you if possible, especially for very young children that cannot wear seat belts i.e. under 3.


Children alone in taxis

It is best to accompany your child in a taxi. However there are times your child may need to travel alone. On such occasions it is important that you only use licensed taxis. If possible, book in advance with a known reputable taxi company.


Children in and around cars

Although rare, children are injured or even killed when they are not even in a road accident. These cases usually involve a vehicle reversing over a child on a driveway and some have been as a result of children being left unattended in vehicles.

Between 2001 and 2012 in the UK, 24 children have been killed on, or near the driveways of their home and most of these deaths have been as a result of a reversing vehicle. (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents - RoSPA) In accidents such as these it is usually an adult member of the child’s family driving the vehicle.


Reversing on Driveways: Tips for Parents

  • Make sure you know where your children are.
  • Check around the vehicle using all mirrors and look over your shoulder.
  • Be aware of blind spots, especially directly behind, where small children can be hidden from view.
  • Ideally, ask another adult to guide you as you reverse. If that’s not possible and you have the slightest doubt, get out of the vehicle to check.
  • Wind down the driver’s side window to increase your awareness.
  • Always reverse slowly to give yourself time to keep checking around you. This also makes it easier to stop suddenly if you need to.
  • Look over your shoulder out of the rear window. Do not just rely on using the rear-view and wing mirrors.


Children inside the car

A survey conducted by RoSPA found that a high number of parents have left their child or children inside the car while they went into a shop or school for a short time. 

There are numerous incidents where children have hurt themselves whilst in a car alone and even cases where children have died (due to an electric window). There have also been several cases of a car being stolen while a child was still inside!

Young children should never be left alone inside a vehicle, even when the engine is turned off.


Young Drivers - Helping young people learn to drive safely

Your child may be old enough to learn to drive. The best way to do this is by having professional lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and regular practice supported by a parent or friend.  The more private practice a learner has the safer they are likely to be when they start to drive on their own. 

Download the RoSPA leaflet for advice about helping learner car drivers during private driving practice here.


Newly Qualified Drivers

Your child passing their driving test is an exciting time. However, this time also brings about new dangers.

Young and new drivers are more likely to be involved in road accidents than experienced drivers.