Before I start, I’m not calling anyone a dummy… this post is a little like one of those “Windows for Dummies” books. Sometimes you need a degree in law to understand some things and the internet has been full of concern about the change in car seat regulations… here are the first 4 questions I’ve seen floating around. I have to split this into a few parts so please keep an eye out for the rest.
What is the new car seat regulation?
The new regulation is called ECE Regulation 129 (i-size). It has actually been effective since July 2013 but the amendments to UK legislation were not completed until recently.(1) The amendment to the legislation reads
This simply means that the car seat you choose must be suitable for your child’s age and weight, and babies under 15 months should remain rear facing until they reach 15 months regardless of their weight. After 15 months there is no difference in ‘old’ and ‘new’ that I know of.
The ‘old’ regulation, R44/04, is not null and void. It is still perfectly acceptable to have a car seat that conforms to this standard (each of my car seats conform to this). However, it does mean that it is no longer the safest way for your child to travel.
I’ve seen a lot of people talking about ERF, what is this?
ERF is Extended Rear Facing and it is exactly what it says on the tin. Whereas most infant carriers only allow your child to rear face up to 13kg (approximately 15 months), ERF car seats accommodate children in a rear facing position up to 18kg (approximately 4 years) or 25kg (approximately 6 years).
Extended rear facing is widely considered the safest way to transport your child. (3)
But I have a tall child, won’t they be uncomfortable?
This is a common misconception. I have seen many comments stating that children’s legs will be crushed/broken/hurt if involved in a collision while rear facing, however, this is more often than not, not the case.
Very often, children will find a position that is comfortable for them. Whether they cross their legs, flop them over the sides of the car seat. Or just rest them where they land. I have seen 100’s of photographs of children over 18 months in a rear facing position and they look perfectly happy and comfortable (4)
The most dangerous accidents are said to be frontal impact collisions and the forces at play mean that children are thrust forward. Just watching the crash test films of a collision to see the impact on a child was enough to make my decision an easy one.
So, to fit with the new regulations, do I need to go out and buy a new car seat?
In short, no you don’t. Just because ECE Regulation 129 has come into force it doesn’t just render ECE R44/04 unusable. Car seats manufactured under the R44 are still as safe as they were, but the new i-size regulations are SAFER.
In my personal opinion, though, you should take serious note of the changes and keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible (even past the 15 months recommended) and keep it in mind when purchasing a car seat. Many parents forward face their child from 9kg regardless of age without realising the potential dangers.
Car seats manufactured and tested in line with R44/04 are still being sold but will gradually be phased out in the future. (5) This is particularly important because most i-size car seats (if not all) are fitted in a vehicle using isofix. Isofix fittings have only been standard in vehicle during the last few years therefore a lot of family cars are not currently isofix (therefore i-size) compatible.
The AA. (2015).i-Size (ECE Regulation 129). Available: http://www.theaa.com/driving-advice/safety/child-safety/i-size-law-regulation. Last accessed 4th April 2015.
(2015).Child car seats: the law. Available: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules. Last accessed 4th April 2015.
(2015).Rear Facing – The Way Forward. Available: http://www.rearfacing.co.uk/. Last accessed 4th April 2015.
Douglas, E. (2013).Rear Facing Car Seat Myths Busted. Available: https://csftl.org/rear-facing-car-seat-myths-busted/. Last accessed 4th April 2015.
(2013).Questions relating to vehicle design. Available: http://www.i-size.org.uk/faqs-vehicles.html. Last accessed 4th April 2015.