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Child Car Seat Laws in the UK

Do You Need a Child Car Seat in UK Taxis? Laws and Options for You

Did you know there are laws on child car seat in UK Taxis? Are you planning to travel with your child in a UK taxi?

Are you wondering whether you need to bring your child’s booster seat, or whether the taxi driver will provide one for you?

You might also be confused about the legal requirements and the best practices for using a child car seat in a taxi.

Travelling with a child in a UK taxi or minicab can be stressful and challenging, especially if you are not familiar with the rules and options for child car seats.

You want to guarantee your child’s safety and comfort, particularly in a vehicle without a car seat, and avoid unnecessary trouble or additional charges.

This is why I have created this comprehensive guide to help you understand everything you need to know about child car seats in UK taxis.

Today, we will explain the legal requirements, exceptions, alternatives, and solutions for different situations.

I will also share some tips and recommendations on how to travel safely and comfortably with your child in a UK taxi.

By the end of this guide, you will have a clear and confident understanding of the child car seat laws and options in UK taxis, and you will be ready to book your next trip with your child.

Let’s get started!

Understanding Child Car Seats in the UK

Travelling with children can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it also comes with challenges and responsibilities. One of the most important aspects of travelling with children is ensuring their safety and comfort in the vehicle.

This means choosing the correct child car seat for their age, weight, and height.

Choosing the Correct Child Car Seat for Travel

The first step to ensuring your child’s safety in the car is selecting the right car seat for their needs. There are different types of child car seats available in the UK, depending on the size and age of your child. These are:

  • Rear-facing baby seats: These are suitable for babies from birth up to 13 kg (around 15 months old). They provide the best protection for your baby’s head, neck, and spine in case of a collision. They should be fitted in the back seat of the car, away from any airbags. You should not move your baby to a forward-facing seat until they have outgrown the maximum weight or height limit of the rear-facing seat.
  • Forward-facing child seats: These are suitable for children from 9 kg to 18 kg (around 9 months to 4 years old). They have a harness that secures your child in the seat and a headrest that supports their head and neck. They should be fitted in the back seat of the car, unless there is no room or the front seat has no airbag. You should not move your child to a booster seat until they have outgrown the maximum weight or height limit of the forward-facing seat.
  • Booster seats: These are suitable for children from 15 kg to 36 kg (around 4 to 12 years old). They raise your child’s position in the car so that they can use the adult seat belt safely. They should be fitted in the back seat of the car, unless there is no room or the front seat has no airbag. Booster seats have a backrest that supports your child’s head and neck, while booster cushions do not. You should choose a booster seat that has a diagonal strap that goes across your child’s chest and a lap belt that goes across their hips. You should not move your child to an adult seat belt until they are at least 135 cm tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first.

Factors to consider when choosing a child car seat:

  • Compatibility: Not all child car seats fit in all cars. You should check the manufacturer’s instructions and the car’s manual to see if the seat is compatible with your car. You should also try to fit the seat in your car before buying it or buy it from a retailer that offers a fitting service.
  • Installation: To correctly and securely install a child car seat, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the car’s manual. Regularly check the seat to ensure it’s still appropriately fitted and without any damage or wear and tear. It’s also important to avoid using second-hand seats or seats in an accident, as they may be unsafe.
  • Safety standards and regulations: You should only buy child car seats that meet the UK or EU safety standards and regulations. These are indicated by a label that shows either a capital E in a circle or an ECE R44.04 approval. You should also be aware of the legal requirements for using child car seats in the UK, which are:
    • Children must use a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135 cm tall, whichever comes first.
    • Children over 12 years old or 135 cm tall must use an adult seat belt.
    • Children under three years old must use a child car seat in all vehicles, except in some taxis and minicabs (see below).
    • Children aged three or older must use a child car seat or an adult seat belt in all vehicles, depending on their size and age.
    • Drivers are responsible for ensuring that children under 14 years old are using the appropriate child car seat or seat belt.

By choosing the correct child car seat for your child and following the safety standards and regulations, you can ensure that your child is safe and comfortable in the car. This will make your travel experience more enjoyable and stress-free.

The Law for Child Seats in UK Taxis

The law for child car seats in UK taxis is different from the law for other vehicles.

In most cases, children under 3 must always be in a child car seat, and children aged 3 or older must use a child car seat or an adult seat belt, depending on the availability and suitability of the car seat.

However, there are a few exceptions and exemptions for taxis and private hire vehicles, particularly related to children under three, that you should keep in mind.

According to the gov.uk website, if the taxi driver does not provide the correct child car seat, children can travel without one – but only if they travel in a rear seat:

  • and wear an adult seat belt if they are 3 or older,
  • without a seat belt if they are under 3.

This suggests that you do not need to carry your own car seat when travelling with a child in a UK taxi, but it is always advisable to check with the driver prior to booking or entering the taxi, specifically if there are already two occupied child car seats in the vehicle.

Some taxi companies may provide child car seats on request, or you may be able to request one at an extra fee.

However, if the driver does have a child car seat that is suitable for your child, you must use it for them. You cannot refuse to use the car seat or choose to use an adult seat belt instead.

The car seat must be appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height, and it must be properly fitted and secured in the vehicle.

If there is no room for a third child car seat in the back of the vehicle, the child must travel in the front seat with the correct car seat. Children aged 3 or older can sit in the back using an adult belt.

The rules for child car seats in UK taxis are designed to ensure the safety and comfort of your child and to comply with the law.

However, if you are not satisfied with the options or solutions provided by the taxi driver or company, you may still prefer to bring your own car seat or use a different transport mode.

Next, I am going to talk about the alternate solutions for car seats in UK taxis for children.

Travelling with Children: Car Seat Guidelines

Travelling with children can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also requires planning and preparation. One thing you need to consider is how to arrange the child car seats in the vehicle, especially if you have more than one child. In this section, we will discuss some tips and guidelines for making room for a third child and when to switch from a booster seat to an adult seat belt.

Making Room for a Third Child: Rear Seat Arrangements

If you have three children who need child car seats, you may face some challenges in fitting them all in the back seat of the car. Depending on the size and type of your car and the child car seats, you may have to:

  • Use a combination of different child car seats: For example, you may use a rear-facing baby seat, a forward-facing child seat, and a booster seat or cushion. Choose child car seats that are compatible with your car and fit securely and snugly. Place the child car seats in the safest positions possible, such as the middle seat for the rear-facing baby seat, the outer seats for the forward-facing child seat and the booster seat or cushion.
  • Use a narrow or slim child car seat: Some child car seats are designed to be narrower or slimmer than others, which can help you save some space in the back seat. You should look for child car seats that have a width of less than 45 cm, and check the manufacturer’s instructions and the car’s manual to see if they are suitable for your car and your child.
  • Use an Isofix base or a seat belt extender: Isofix is a system that allows you to attach the child car seat directly to the car’s frame, without using the seat belt. This can make the installation easier and more secure, and also free up some space in the back seat. However, not all cars and child car seats have Isofix, so you should check the compatibility before buying or using them. A seat belt extender is a device that lengthens the seat belt, which can help you buckle up the child car seat more easily and comfortably. However, you should only use a seat belt extender that is approved by the car or child car seat manufacturer, and follow the instructions carefully.

If none of these options work for you, or if you have more than three children who need child car seats, you may have to consider other alternatives, such as:

  • Using a larger or more spacious car: If you have access to a bigger or wider car, such as an SUV, a minivan, or a station wagon, you may be able to fit more child car seats in the back seat, or use the third row of seats if available. However, you should still check the compatibility and safety of the child car seats and the car and follow the installation and usage guidelines.
  • Using a roof box or a trailer: If you have a lot of luggage or equipment to carry, you may be able to free up some space in the car by using a roof box or a trailer. This can allow you to fit more child car seats in the back seat, or use the boot space for a child car seat if necessary. You should ensure that the roof box or the trailer is securely attached to the car, and that the child car seat in the boot is properly installed and has enough ventilation.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can ensure enough room in the car for all your children and their car seats.

Booster Seat or Adult Seat Belt: Which is Suitable for a Child Aged 12 Years Old?

If you have a child who is 12 years old, you may wonder if they still need a booster seat or if they can use an adult seat belt. It depends on their height, weight, maturity, and the car/seat belt type.

Here are some factors to consider when making the decision:

  • Height: The minimum height requirement for using an adult seat belt in the UK is 135 cm. However, this is not a guarantee that the seat belt will fit your child properly and safely. Ideally, your child should be at least 150 cm tall before using an adult seat belt, as this is the average height of an adult female in the UK. This will ensure that the seat belt goes across their shoulder and chest, and not their neck or face, and that the lap belt goes across their hips and pelvis, and not their stomach or abdomen.
  • Weight: The minimum weight requirement for using an adult seat belt in the UK is 36 kg. However, this does not guarantee that the seat belt will provide enough protection for your child in case of a crash. Ideally, your child should weigh at least 40 kg before using an adult seat belt, as this is the average weight of an adult female in the UK. This will ensure that the seat belt can restrain your child effectively and prevent them from sliding under the seat belt or being ejected from the vehicle.
  • Maturity: The minimum age requirement for using an adult seat belt in the UK is 12 years old. However, this does not guarantee that your child is ready and willing to use an adult seat belt correctly and consistently. Ideally, your child should be mature enough to understand the importance of wearing a seat belt, and to follow the rules and instructions for using it. This will ensure your child does not tamper with the seat belt, such as loosening it, putting it behind their back, or sharing it with another passenger.
  • Car and seat belt: The type of car and seat belt you have can also affect the suitability of an adult seat belt for your child. Ideally, you should have a car and a seat belt that are compatible with your child’s size and shape, and that offer the best possible fit and protection.

By considering these factors, you can determine if your child is ready and able to use an adult seat belt, or if they still need a booster seat. You should also check the manufacturer’s instructions and the car’s manual to see if they have any specific recommendations or warnings for using an adult seat belt or a booster seat. You should also monitor your child’s growth and development, and adjust the child car seat or the seat belt accordingly.

The Alternatives and Solutions for Child Car Seats in The UK

If you are not comfortable with the idea of travelling with your child in a UK taxi without a car seat, or if you are not sure whether the taxi driver will provide a suitable car seat for your child, you may want to consider some alternatives and solutions.

There are different options and choices that you have when it comes to child car seats in UK taxis, depending on your preferences, budget, and situation.

Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Bringing your own car seat: This is the most obvious and reliable option, as you can ensure the safety and comfort of your child with your own car seat. On the other hand, this method of preferring to take children without a booster seat also has its share of disadvantages, such as:
    • The hassle and cost of carrying and transporting your car seat, especially if you are travelling by plane, train, or bus.
    • The compatibility and installation issues of your car seat with the taxi vehicle, as not all car seats fit all vehicles, and not all taxi drivers are familiar with how to install them properly.
    • The availability and quality of the taxi service, as some taxi companies may refuse to take you if you have your own car seat, or may charge you extra for it.
  • Requesting a car seat in advance: This is a convenient and affordable option, as you can book a taxi or a private hire vehicle that provides a car seat for your child. However, this option also has some limitations, such as:
    • The availability and quality of the car seat, as not all taxi companies or drivers have car seats, or they may have only a limited number or type of car seats.
    • The suitability and safety of the car seat, as the car seat may not be appropriate for your child’s age, weight, or height, or it may not be properly fitted or secured in the vehicle.
    • The flexibility and reliability of the taxi service, as you may have to book well in advance, or you may face delays or cancellations if the car seat is unavailable or damaged.
  • Renting a car seat: This is a flexible and practical option, as you can rent a car seat from a reputable and reliable service that delivers and collects the car seat from your location. However, this option also has some challenges, such as:
    • The cost and availability of the car seat rental, as you may have to pay a deposit, a delivery fee, or a cancellation fee, or you may have to book in advance or wait for the car seat to arrive.
    • The compatibility and installation of the car seat with the taxi vehicle, as you may have to install the car seat yourself, or rely on the taxi driver to do it for you.
    • The quality and safety of the car seat, as the car seat may not be in good condition, or meet the UK standards or regulations.
  • Using a booster seat that is portable or foldable in a car: This is a novel and innovative option, as you can use a car seat that is designed to be portable, foldable, or inflatable, and that can fit in your luggage or handbag. Nonetheless, opting to travel without a car seat also carries risks, such as:
    • The legality and safety of the car seat, as not all portable or foldable car seats are approved or certified by the UK authorities, or they may not offer the same level of protection as a regular car seat.
    • The compatibility and installation of the car seat with the taxi vehicle, as not all taxi drivers or vehicles are equipped or compatible with these types of car seats, or they may not allow you to use them.
    • Factors like the stability and comfort of the child restraint should be taken into consideration, as the seat may not be sturdy, secure enough, or might not be comfortable or suitable for your child.

each opinion has advantages and disadvantages, so it is essential to carefully consider the options and choose what is best for you and your child.

You may also want to consider other factors, such as the duration and frequency of your travel, the availability and cost of the taxi service, and the personal preferences and needs of your child.

In the next section, we will give you some tips and recommendations on how to travel safely and comfortably with your child in a UK taxi.

The Importance of Correct Child Car Seats in Taxis

Travelling by taxi or minicab can be a convenient and affordable way to get around, especially when you have children with you. However, you should also be aware of the importance of using correct child car seats in taxis, as they can make a big difference in the event of an accident. In this section, we will discuss what happens when travelling without a car seat, and the consequences of travelling in a vehicle without a seat belt.

What Happens When Travelling Without a Car Seat?

Travelling without a car seat can expose your child to serious risks of injury or death in case of a collision. According to the UK Department for Transport, in 2019, there were 1,752 road deaths and 25,945 serious injuries in Great Britain. Of these, 52 deaths and 1,798 serious injuries involved children aged 0 to 15. Many of these casualties could have been prevented or reduced if the children were using appropriate child car seats.

Child car seats are designed to protect your child’s head, neck, and spine from the impact of a crash. They also prevent your child from being thrown out of the vehicle or hitting other passengers or objects inside the car.

Potential Consequences

Without a car seat, your child is more likely to suffer from:

  • Head injuries: These are the most common and serious type of injury for children in car accidents. They can cause brain damage, coma, or death. A child’s head is larger and heavier than an adult’s, relative to their body size, which makes it more vulnerable to trauma. A child car seat can reduce the risk of head injuries by up to 71%.
  • Chest injuries: These are the second most common type of injury for children in car accidents. They can cause internal bleeding, lung damage, or cardiac arrest. A child’s chest is softer and more flexible than an adult’s, which makes it more prone to compression. A child car seat can reduce the risk of chest injuries by up to 69%.
  • Abdominal injuries: These are the third most common type of injury for children in car accidents. They can cause organ damage, infection, or shock. A child’s abdomen is less protected by bones and muscles than an adult’s, which makes it more susceptible to rupture. A child car seat can reduce the risk of abdominal injuries by up to 65%.

These statistics show that travelling without a car seat can have devastating consequences for your child’s health and well-being. Therefore, you should always use a child car seat when travelling by taxi or minicab, unless there is a valid reason not to (see below).

The Consequences of Travelling in a Vehicle Without a Seat Belt

Travelling in a vehicle without a seat belt can also expose you and your child to serious risks of injury or death in case of a collision. According to the UK Department for Transport, in 2019, there were 207 deaths and 1,398 serious injuries in Great Britain involving people who were not wearing a seat belt. Of these, 8 deaths and 69 serious injuries involved children aged 0 to 15. Many of these casualties could have been avoided or reduced if the people were wearing a seat belt.

Seat belts are designed to keep you and your child in place and prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle or hitting other passengers or objects inside the car. They also distribute the force of the crash across your body, reducing the impact on your vital organs. Without a seat belt, you and your child are more likely to suffer from:

  • Facial injuries: These are the most common type of injury for people who are not wearing a seat belt. They can cause fractures, lacerations, or eye damage. A seat belt can reduce the risk of facial injuries by up to 75%.
  • Spinal injuries: These are the second most common type of injury for people who are not wearing a seat belt. They can cause paralysis, nerve damage, or chronic pain. A seat belt can reduce the risk of spinal injuries by up to 45%.
  • Pelvic injuries: These are the third most common type of injury for people who are not wearing a seat belt. They can cause fractures, dislocations, or bladder damage. A seat belt can reduce the risk of pelvic injuries by up to 50%.

These statistics show that travelling in a vehicle without a seat belt can have severe consequences for your and your child’s health and well-being. Therefore, you should always wear a seat belt when travelling by taxi or minicab, and make sure your child is using a child car seat or an adult seat belt, depending on their size and age.

Tips and Recommendations on Travelling with a Child in a UK Taxi

When travelling with your little ones, safety and comfort are paramount, ensuring they are either in a booster seat or are 12 years old or above, whichever comes first.

To make your journey easier and more enjoyable, here are some practical advice and suggestions on how to travel with a child in a UK taxi, especially if you must be in a child car seat.

  • To ensure the availability of a third child seat if needed, it’s preferable to book your taxi in advance: This will give you more time and flexibility when choosing a licensed taxi service that meets your requirements, especially if you need a child seat. You can also check the availability and quality of the car seat, if the driver provides one, or request one in advance, if possible.
  • You need to verify the compatibility and installation of the appropriate child car seat you plan to use: If you plan on bringing your child’s booster seat with you on a taxi ride, ensuring the seat is compatible with the vehicle you will be travelling in is essential. Additionally, you should know and be able to install the seat correctly. Alternatively, you may request the driver’s assistance with the installation process as long as they are willing and able to help.
  • Bring some toys, snacks, or books: To keep your child entertained and calm during the journey, you can bring some of their favourite toys, snacks, or books. You can also play some games, sing some songs, or tell some stories with them. This will help them enjoy the ride and distract them from discomfort or boredom.
  • Always adhering to the general safety rules, guidelines, and seat laws in the UK: Even if the taxi driver does not provide a car seat, or if you are exempt from using one, you should still follow the general safety rules and guidelines for travelling with a child. These include:
    • Using the appropriate car seat or seat belt for your child, depending on their age, weight, and height.
    • Avoid distractions, such as using your phone, eating, or drinking, while travelling with your child.
    • Keep an eye on your child and make sure they are comfortable and secure.
    • Reporting any problems or issues to the driver or the taxi company, if necessary.

Conclusion

We have explained everything you need to know about child car seats in UK taxis, including the legal requirements, exceptions, alternatives, and solutions.

We have also shared some tips and recommendations on how to travel safely and comfortably with your child in a UK taxi.

The safety and comfort of your child should be your top priority. Choose the option that works best for your situation.

When travelling with a child, you can bring your own car seat, request one in advance, rent one, or use a portable or foldable one.

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option and consider factors like travel duration and frequency, taxi availability and cost, and your child’s needs and preferences to make the best decision for their safety and comfort.

author image

Mohammed Naseer is the Founder and Chief Cabbie at TappAXI, the UK’s first and only dedicated airport taxi app. With over 8 years of experience in the taxi industry, Mohammed has completed over 3000 airport transfers and helped thousands of passengers reach their destinations. He is a licensed taxi driver and operator in Oxford. He is passionate about travel and providing the best taxi service in town. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

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