Child Car Seat Safety

Safety Advice For Parents


Ensuring your children are safe in the car is your number one priority as a parent when heading out on the road. However, with so many different types of car seats available and specific rules and regulations surrounding each one, making sure you choose the correct model for your little one and use it properly can be tricky.

With data from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) suggesting that four out of every five child car seats in Ireland are incorrectly fitted, here at Chill Insurance we thought we’d take a look at some of the important things you should remember when choosing, fitting and using a car seat for your child.

What is the law regarding child car seats?

By law, any child under 150 cm in height and weighing less than 36 kg (around 11 or 12 years old) who is travelling in a vehicle has to be restrained using the appropriate restraint system. Below we’ve listed the different car seat groups and how they correspond to a child’s age and weight.

  • Group 0 - Rearward facing baby seat - from birth to 10kg (22 lbs)
  • Group 0+ - Rearward facing baby seat - birth to 13kg (29 lbs)
  • Group 1 - Rearward or forward facing child seat - 9-18kg (20-40 lbs)
  • Group 1, 2, 3 - High back booster seat with removable harness - 9-36kg (20 - 79 lbs)
  • Group 2 - High back booster seat without harness - 15-25kg (33-55 lbs)
  • Group 2, 3 - High back booster seat without harness 15-36kg (33-79 lbs)
  • Group 3 - Booster cushion - 22-36kg (48-79 lbs)

It’s worth noting that, for safety reasons, children should stay rear facing for as long as possible. Rearward facing seats better support children’s necks and heads from whiplash type injuries. You should only transition your child from a rearward facing seat to a forward facing one when they are over the maximum weight for the seat as outlined by the manufacturer or when their eye level is in line with the top of the seat. It is possible to buy extended rear facing car seats that are suitable for children up to 25 kgs (55 lbs).

The car seat you choose should conform to the UN standard, ECE Regulation 44.03, or a later version of the standard, 44.04, or new i-Size (Regulation 129). Be sure to check for the ‘E’ mark label on the restraint before you buy.

Can a child sit in the front of a car?

You should always have your child ride in the back of the car as this is the safest place for them to be in the event of a crash. Having your child ride in the front seat could have disastrous consequences. If an airbag is deployed when a child is travelling up front in a rear facing car seat, it could result in death. If you are caught driving with a rear facing car seat in your passenger seat without the airbag switched off, you could be given at least three penalty points on your driving licence.

Can a child sit in the front seat with a booster?

Children should sit in the back seats of a car, in a position in which you can see them through your rear view mirror at all times, as this is safer in the event of an accident.

Are babies allowed in the front seat of a car?

Babies should be placed in a suitable carrier in the rear of the car to keep them as safe as possible. As mentioned above, it is illegal to drive with a baby or young child in a rearward facing carrier in the front seat of a vehicle with airbags active.

Are booster seats as safe as car seats?

Once a child reaches a certain age or weight, it is likely they will outgrow their car seats. When this happens, booster seats and cushions actually become safer to use than a car seat that has become too small. Your child should move from a car seat to a booster seat when they reach the correct age and/or weight listed in guidelines above.

As regular seat belts are designed for adults and not children, booster seats are designed to lift children up higher in their seat to ensure the belt lies naturally across the strong bones of the chest and pelvis rather than the tummy, neck or head. This improved positioning helps to ensure the belt does its job correctly in the event of a crash.

Remember, if you are involved in a traffic accident, make sure you report it straight away to your car insurance provider. Always check that your child car seat or booster is intact and does not need to be replaced with a new one.

Can a child wear a coat in a car seat?

Different weather conditions dictate what your child will be wearing. However, what you might not have considered is that what your child is wearing could affect how you correctly use your child seat. If, for example, it is winter and your child is wearing a bulky coat, you need to ensure that when you place your child in their seat, you are not putting them at risk because of their coat. A good test is to place your child in their car child seat with their coat on and then put on their safety belts and harness. Now take off their coat and see how much space there is between them and the belt. If the belt is loose then this means that the child will not get the full support of the belt if there were an incident where the belt was needed. This will highlight the importance of always making sure the belts and harnesses are correctly fitted depending on what your child is wearing.