February 28, 2017
Confused by the recent changes to car seat laws regarding backless boosters? Wondering if your booster seat is still okay to use? Our car safety expert answers your questions, and explains what the new rules mean for you.
Booster Law Changes: What You Need to Know
Q: I’ve heard there’s been a change to the laws about booster seats?
A: Yes, as of February 9th car seat manufacturers are no longer permitted to bring to market new backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg -approximately the size of a six year old.
Q: What’s new about these regulations?
A: The previous regulations allowed parents to move children weighing 15kg or more up to a backless booster seat – now, any new backless booster produced will be for children over 22kg, or 125cm tall only.
Q: Does this mean backless boosters are now illegal?
A: No. The law does not affect those using current models of backless booster seats, so parents are free to continue to use their current seats. It just means that any new models of backless booster seats will only be suitable for children 125cm and above or 22kg or over.
Q: How does the law change affect me?
A: The law change only affects you when buying a brand new booster seat. If the backless booster seat was certified after 9th February (you can tell by the weight and height restrictions labelled on the product) you will be asked if your child is 125cm or taller or 22kg or heavier before purchasing.
Q: Why is the law changing?
A: In the event of a crash, poor belt positioning can mean that your child is not held as securely in their seat, causing injury to the neck and spine. As poor belt positioning is a common issue with backless boosters, particularly for younger children, it was determined that the minimum weight should be raised to decrease the risk of injury to children riding in backless booster seats.
Q: Are backless booster seats unsafe for my child?
A: Backless boosters are still, for the moment, certified as safe and legal. The law is designed to gradually phase out the old backless booster seats recommended for children starting at the minimum weight of 15kg, as the new backless booster seats for children from 125cm or 22kg come into circulation.
However, I would always recommend that parents make the change over to a high-backed booster when possible, and for as long as possible. Even beyond the legal minimum height requirement of 125cm. In fact, I’d advise any parent to keep their child in some form of booster seat until they are naturally tall enough for the seat belt to fit snugly on the shoulder and hips and therefore take the force of an impact. On average this means keeping your child in a booster seat until 150cm or 12 years old. While this may be tricky they really do provide better protection for your child in the event of a crash.
Q: What should I look for when shopping for a booster seat?
A: For those looking for a child weighing 15kg or more, roughly over 3 or 4 years of age, you’ll be looking for a group 2/3 car seat.
From the Joie range I would recommend the trillo, duallo or trillo lx– pictured in that order below. All of these Joie car seats are high backed designs with enhanced side impact protection providing added security for the head, body and hips over and above a basic booster cushion.