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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
New laws due on child seatbelts
Woman fitting infant in car seat
It will be compulsory for an appropriate restraint to be used
New laws are to make it compulsory for children to always use appropriate restraints and safety belts in cars.

From September, children under three must always be carried in a baby or child seat appropriate to their weight.

Children aged three to 11, and under 135cm, must use a booster seat and children aged 12 or over 135cm tall must use an adult seatbelt.

DoE Minister David Cairns said they wanted to make sure children were being transported safely in Northern Ireland.

The existing law already requires adults passengers to use seatbelts provided in cars and vans. It also requires children travelling in front seats to use a child restraint or a seatbelt.

The tougher laws make it compulsory for children to always use an appropriate restraint.

Bus passengers aged 14 and over will also be required to use seat belts, where fitted.

There also will be consultation on how to extend this to all bus passengers over three years of age.

"I am concerned that one in ten children under 14 travel in the backs of cars without being safely belted in," Mr Cairns said.

'Drivers responsible'

"Most parents put very small children in baby seats; but as the children get older some parents use adult seat belts which are not suitable - and some forget all together. This is putting children's lives at risk."

The minister said that even in a low-speed crash, anyone not wearing a seat belt could injure or even kill themselves and anyone else in the car.

"Drivers will be legally responsible for making sure that children under 14 are belted in," he said.

There are a number of exceptions to the new laws, such as when children are being moved in taxis when no appropriate child seat is available or in unforeseen emergencies when no booster seat is available.

Another exception is that if a car has three seat belts in the back and two occupied child seats or boosters prevent a third being fitted, a child aged three or over may travel using an adult belt.


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