Car seats and carrying children safely in cars

By Sandyford Feb 10, 2022

The Irish legislation relating to car seats and booster seats can seem very complicated and particularly when we view it alongside the vast array of car seats, baby transporters and booster seats available.  The whole area of traveling safely with children in the car can seem quite bewildering but is in fact practical and sensible and designed with the safety of our most precious citizens in mind. Here are some helpful pointers to help you get a clear picture of the rules on carrying little ones in the car and on which seat might suit you best for each stage of development.

The Law

Legally the driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring that the smaller passengers are safely secured before beginning the journey. All children under150cm (4ft 11inches) in height and/or under 36kg (79lbs) in weight should have a designated car seat or booster when travelling in any vehicle. Generally speaking, this means that your child will need to be in a CRS (Child Restraint System) until they are 11 or 12 years of age. An exception is made for taxis, although many parents like to keep a simple car seat handy for occasions where they need to take a taxi. Backless booster seats can only be used in the child is over 22kg. Each child car seat must conform to UN and ECE regulations 44-03, 44-04 or a new i-size or Regulation 129 version.  It must be the appropriate one for the child’s size and it needs to be correctly fitted to the vehicle.  There is no law that prohibits children from sitting in the front of the car, as long as they are properly secured into the correct car seat.   It is illegal however, to use a rearward-facing seat in a front passenger seat that is protected by an airbag. Deployment of the air bag in an accident would cause serious injury or could even prove fatal for a child secured in a rear facing front car seat.   It is always preferable and advisable to travel with the kiddie’s snug in appropriate seats in the back.   

Car seats

The seat you choose for your child is determined by the weight, rather than by the age of the child, first and foremost. Child Restraint Systems come in all shapes and sizes.   Despite the draconian name, child restraint systems are comfy high backed car seats, jaunty booster seats and snug little carriers for the tinies, designed to make travelling safe, secure and comfortable.   Thankfully, the car seat industry is heavily regulated so you can be certain when buying that your choice fits the following criteria   

  • Look for the E mark which lets you now that the carrier conforms to the UN standard, ECE Regulation 44-03, or a later version of the standard, 44.04, or new i-Size (Regulation 129).
  • Ensure the seat is correct for the child’s weight and height
  • Have it fitted correctly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions?

Not every seat works in every car. Most new cars will have Isofix installed. Isofix is the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars. It basically means that rather than use the car seatbelts to prevent the seat moving, the Isofix fastens the child seat to the base and there is no need for clipping car seat belts around.  To find out if your car has Isofix anchor points, look for Isofix labels between the base and back of your car seats as often the fitting points are not obvious.   Check your vehicle's handbook or contact the manufacturer or dealer.

Impact shield technology

Impact shield technology is the latest innovation in child car seats and one of the newest safety features available which are now being incorporated into an increasing number of car seats. Often called safety cushions, they fasten around your precious cargo while in their car seats.  The idea is that they act like a pre-inflated airbag and wrap around the child helping to keep them safe in an accident.

With ever increasing technology, it has never been easier to find a suitable car seat that meets your family needs and keeps your little one safe and comfortable.  Having the right car seat means peace of mind and smooth secure and easy travelling. 

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