Headlines: September 18th, 2006



Councils across the country have been working hard to ensure parents are familiar with new laws on child car seats which come into force today. Families that do not comply with the changed regulatrions could face fines of up to 500 pounds. Road Safety teams, Trading Standards Officers and Fire and Rescue Services personnel are running a range of events, including on-the-spot checks of car seats and boosters at schools, supermarkets and car parks as well as being available to explain the guidelines in detail.

From today drivers have to ensure that every child travelling in a car, where seatbelts are fitted, uses a baby seat, child seat, booster seat or booster cushion until they reach 1.35 metres tall or 12 years of age. The Department for Transport believes this change in the law could prevent up to 2,000 child casualties each year.

Les Lawrence, who leads the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board said it was essential that children were made as safe as possible and pointed out that seven out of ten car seats were fitted inappropriately. A hundred thousand children a year were involved in car crashes and councils would do all they could to ensure parents and motorists realised what was expected of them. Councils would also stress the implications for parents who failed to comply with the rules.

Examples of local authority run activities include Gloucestershire County Council which has sent letters about the changes to more than 700 schools and the county’s 1,200 childminders. It is also targeting the parents of 6,500 primary school starters through newsletters and in every fire station a fully-trained officer is on hand to give advice. Hertfordshire County Council has distributed 20,000 bookmarks to schools and libraries as well as taking advertising space on bus backs. In Buckinghamshire the new rules have been promoted at shows across the county throughout the summer and leaflets have been sent to relevant establishments.

Other authorities have run similar events, sometimes in conjunction with the police