25/07/2018 13:44 BST | Updated 26/07/2018 09:01 BST

Do Children Need Car Seats When Travelling In Taxis?

Would you know if you were breaking the law?

You’ve hired a taxi for you and your kids, but when it arrives you realise it doesn’t have any children’s car seats fitted. Will you be breaking the law if you travel without one?

If you’re unsure about the answer to this question, you’re not alone. Many UK parents are not clear on how car seat laws apply to taxis according to a new survey.

Out of 5,000 parents of children under 12 questioned by Which?, 39% believed that you would be fined if you did not use a car seat in a taxi or private hire vehicle, but that is nor the case. 

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It is a legal requirement that children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. This is because children using a child car seat are up to five times safer than those who do not.

But note the use of the word “normally” there, the government does make allowances for taxis and minicabs. If the driver doesn’t provide a car seat children aged three and over can wear an adult seatbelt and those under three can travel without a seat belt - as long as they’r in a rear seat. 

However, just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a car seat if you have one.  

“This legislation was introduced for practical rather than safety reasons.  We would not advise parent to transport their children unrestrained in a taxi,” Nick Lloyd, road safety manager for RoSPA (The Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents), told HuffPost UK.

“Where the journey is planned, pre-book a taxi with a company who will either let you fit and use your own seat or the company will supply an appropriate seat.

“Many parents find this anomaly in the law difficult to understand and it is time for the government to revisit this so that children in taxis have the same level of protection as when travelling in a family vehicle.” 

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Laws surrounding car seats are often subject to change. For instance, in 2017 the law concerning backless booster seats was changed so that manufacturers are no longer allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg. This change did not affect existing models, just the guidelines for the development of new ones.

For more up-to-date information on the current UK laws on car seats and when children are able to travel without one, visit the government’s website.