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Is your child safe in your car?
- AuthorAimee Brown
Following the recent change to the clocks, motorists should now be adjusting to driving in the dark. It will come as no surprise that the number of road traffic accidents increases in the winter months, as it’s harder to see hazards, we have slower reaction times, and there is more ice or snow on the roads. But have you considered the impact on all of your passengers if you’re involved in a road traffic accident? Retu Gogna, Personal Injury Solicitor, and Aimee Brown, Personal Injury Executive, at Hampshire based law firm Warner Goodman LLP, here advise parents on how car seats must be fitted for their children, and the consequences of not complying with the Regulations.
“A recent study carried out by road safety campaign group Brake, found that just 26% of parents know the law on child and booster seats, which is surprising,” begins Retu. “The survey also showed that 1 in 20 parents never use a child or booster seat and another 26% of parents have used them in the past, but the seat did not fit properly. This clearly shows that child safety awareness must be improved, and with more than 700 young children killed or seriously injured on our roads every year, it’s of paramount importance for parents to be aware of the child safety rules.”
Laws introduced in 2006 state that parents must use a child or booster seat until their child is either 12 years old or 135cm tall. Further rules were also given on the type of seats that must be used; babies up to 13kg must be in rear-facing baby seats, children from 9kg to 18kg in a forward or rear-facing baby seats, children from 15 to 25kg in forward facing child car seats (booster seats) and children over 22kg to have a booster cushion.
“Not only is the type of seat important, but also the car it’s fitted into,” explains Aimee. “If you are using a rear-facing seat in the front seat, you must de-activate any front airbags before hand. A child seat will become dangerous for a number of reasons such as a twisted seatbelt, incompatible seats, if it has a crack or another fault, or if the casing of the buckle clip of the seatbelt is smashed by the car seat, as this will result in the seatbelt coming free.”
Aside from the obvious risk to your child’s safety, there are other consequences to consider. Retu explains, “Your child’s safety is the first priority when making a journey and if the car seat isn’t fitted correctly and you were to have an accident, your child could suffer from severe head, neck and internal injuries, which could have been prevented or reduced if the car seat was correct. Another consequence comes in the form of a fine, as drivers face fines from £30 on the spot or up to £500 in court if they are not complying with regulations.”
Aimee concludes, “Working in the Personal Injury department, we have seen the devastation that can be caused by a situation that is easy to rectify; having an incorrect car seat. If you are involved in an accident and wish to make a claim against the other driver because you and your child are injured, if it comes to light that the car seat wasn’t fitted correctly or wasn’t the appropriate seat for your child, then you could be found contributory negligent. This means that you would be found partly or completely at fault for your child’s injuries by the Courts which could impact the success of the claim.
“Allegations of causing your child’s injury are difficult to deal with and although a parent would not intentionally put their child at risk of injury, parents that are unaware to the criteria of car seats and boosters may be exposing their child to risk of injury unintentionally.”
If you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault or you’d like more information on road safety, contact Retu or Aimee on 0800 91 92 30 or visit the website www.warnergoodman.co.uk.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.