Driving with your child | Paschal O’Hare Personal Injury Solicitors | Belfast - Northern Ireland

Driving with your child

Driving with your child

Children are by far more vulnerable than adults when driving. Consequently, it’s essential that motorists with children on board reduce the risk of injury as much as possible in case an accident occurs.  Here are a few things you need to consider.

Who requires a seat or restraint?

Children under the age of 3 must be properly secured in a suitable child restraint. They can only travel by road without one if it’s in a bus or taxi and a restraint isn’t available. A rear-facing baby seat shouldn’t be used on a passenger seat that’s covered by an air-bag, unless it’s been deactivated. 

The law states that any child between the ages of 3 to 12 must use a suitable child restraint. It’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure this happens. However, if a child is 4ft 5in in height they are no longer required to use a child restraint. Failure to comply could land the driver with a fixed penalty fine of £60 and three penalty points.  There are some exceptions though. The first is a child in a taxi where a suitable restraint isn’t available. The second is a short necessary journey that was unexpected and a restraint wasn’t available. The third exception is instances when two child seats prevent a third and no suitable restraint for front seat use is available. The final exception is when a child seat would be unsafe on medical grounds. However, a medical certificate is required in advance of this. 

Children beyond the age of 12 should wear a seatbelt, just like an adult passenger.

Choosing the right seat or restraint

Young children grow and develop at different rates and therefore it can be difficult to identify the ideal restraint. There are a variety of seats available and are suitable dependent on the child’s weight and height. Consequently, a child is likely to have multiple child seats as they grow up.

Car seats are segmented by group and there are as follows:

  • Group 0: 0-10kg
  • Group 0+: 0-13kg
  • Group 1: 9-18 kg
  • Group 2: 15-25 kg
  • Group 3: 22-36 kg

Before purchasing a child seat it is advised to speak with a reputable seller to ensure you choose the right product for your child. It is also advisable to read safety reviews of various seats. Never buy a second hand seat as there’s no guarantee that it has not weakened as a result of a previous accident.

Road traffic accident claims for minors

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with a child as a passenger, you should try to remain calm. Ensure it is safe to check on the child before doing so, particularly if you need to exit your vehicle. This is especially important on a busy road. For more on remaining safe on a busy road, read this handy blog post.

If the child is injured then they might be entitled to compensation. However the claiming process is a little different than it is for adults. As a child cannot instruct a solicitor, their legal guardian should do it for them. We specialise in road traffic accident claims and have dealt with many cases involving minors. Although we recommend contacting a solicitor as soon as possible, a child has until their 21st birthday to issue proceedings regardless of when the accident occurred.

If you or a child in your care was involved in an accident then we can help. Click here to learn more about our services or contact us for a free, no obligation enquiry.

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