Closed petition Require rear facing car seats for children under 18kg, 105cm tall or 4 years

To ensure all infants involved in RTCs have the best chance of survival. Current law allows parents with lack of knowledge to put their infants in potential danger without even knowing. Although guidance is there, many infants are being put into forward facing seats as this isn't against the law.

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A rear facing seat will absorb most of the collision forces and supports the head; neck and spine. The seat keeps the spine aligned and limits damaging movement. When children ride forward facing, their heads - which for toddlers are disproportionately large and heavy are thrown forward. This can result in spine and head injuries such as fracture of the cervical vertebrae and internal decapitation. Organisations such as the NHS and Good Egg are already recommending rear facing car seats for longer.

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 January 2024

Government participates in UN discussions about technical standards for child restraints. The expert group decided against mandating rearward facing restraint systems for children up-to 4-years old.

Domestic seat belt wearing regulations require children up to 135 cms in height, or 12 years of age, whichever is reached first, in the front or rear seats in cars, vans and other goods vehicles, to travel in a child restraint system approved to United Nations Regulations (UNR) 44 or 129.

UNR 129 was developed more recently to supersede UNR44. This Regulation introduces enhanced requirements for child protection, including use of more advanced dummies for dynamic assessment, enhanced side impact protection and a requirement for seats approved for use by children younger than 15 months old to be rear facing.

While a rear facing child restraint system is likely to offer better levels of protection than its forward-facing equivalent in a frontal impact, they are usually larger and often more difficult to install, particularly in smaller vehicles commonly found in the UK and many other countries. This means that they are more likely to be fitted or used incorrectly and therefore pose a greater risk of injury.

The safety of children travelling in vehicles is a complex issue and is affected by a range of factors including child development, ease of use/misuse, cost, vehicle design and regulatory requirements. Some manufacturers offer seats in the UK that are approved for use rearward facing with larger children up to approximately four years of age, and those responsible for the transport of children can consider the relative benefits of using these products alongside the broad range of other factors that might influence their purchasing decision.

To help consumers with their purchasing decision, the Government provides guidance on the regulations on GOV.UK where a link is also provided to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) child car seat website, which provides advice on choosing an appropriate child restraint system. The Department for Transport has also provided funding to Good Egg Safety, an organisation that provides advice on choosing child restraint systems and offers access to experts to help answer any further questions individuals might have.

Department for Transport