A third of parents are breaking the law when giving a lift to someone else's child

A third of parents are breaking the law when transporting someone else's child in the car [Photo: Getty]

Going to or from a birthday party, coming home from school, sharing the swimming run, as a parent there are times when you’ll have to give a lift to someone else’s child.

But new research has revealed parents are often overlooking a vital safety aspect that could see them breaking the law.

According to a recent study, one third of parents are flouting safety rules by giving a lift to someone else’s child without using a child seat.

The study, of 1,000 UK parents of children aged 12 or under, revealed a worrying proportion of UK children who may have found themselves at risk of death or serious injury because they aren’t travelling in a car seat.

And that’s not the only rule parents are ignoring, one in 10 parents have had four or more children sat across one row of seats in the car, while one in five let their child sit on a cushion rather than a booster seat.

The survey was carried out by OnePoll for the car manufacturer SEAT to highlight the risks to youngsters of not being strapped in correctly.

READ MORE: Why it’s dangerous for children to wear a coat in their car seat

Under the current law, children aged up to 12 years old or 135cm tall are, with a few exceptions, legally obliged to use a child seat when travelling in a car.

Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.

If there’s no room for a third child seat in the back seat (where two occupied child car seats in the rear prevent the fitting of a third one) a third child under the age of three can’t travel unless they are in the front seat with the correct child seat.

Children more than three years old can either use the front seat with the correct child seat or sit in the back using an adult belt.

If you have an unexpected but necessary journey over a short distance, and don’t have the correct child car seat, a child over three years old can use the adult seat belt.

But parents should be warned that picking up a friend's child from school does not count as an unexpected but necessary journey.

You must not take children under three in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat (except in the back seat of a taxi or minicab).

While it is tempting to offer an on-the-spot lift to someone else’s child without the right car seat or restraint, the consequences can be costly.

Drivers currently face a fine of up to £500 and three penalty points for using the wrong restraint.

And the safety risks are even greater. In a 30mph collision, the injury sustained by a child weighing 8kg who gets thrown from a seat is similar to falling from a three-storey height.

And according to the Department of Transport almost 10,000 children aged 15 or under were injured while travelling in a car in 2017, with 20 being killed.

Parents are confused about car seat safety [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: The child seat mistake most parents are making

The problem is that while most parents wouldn’t dream of putting a baby or toddler, in a car without some sort of car seat, there is confusion over car seat regulations when it comes to transporting other people’s children.

The SEAT poll revealed that just one fifth of parents are confident about the rules regarding children and car seats.

And three quarters of parents think the government should do more to raise awareness of car seat regulations, with 20 per cent worried they might inadvertently break the law regarding child seats.

As a result of the findings, SEAT has released its top ten tips for travelling with children in vehicles.

1. Use a certified child seat according to height and weight
2. Always use the rear seats rather than the front
3. Fasten the child seat correctly
4. Tighten the straps on the harness
5. Ensure the seat faces the rear for as long as possible
6. Make no exceptions during short trips
7. No outerwear or backpacks
8. Place all equipment in the boot
9. Lead by example
10. In the event of an accident, remove the child from the car in their seat

Kim Kardashian recently sparked a debate about car seat safety after sharing a picture of her son Saint in his car seat.

And the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William aren’t exempt from getting criticised by the car seat police. When they brought their just born son Prince George home from the hospital, some expressed concerns that he wasn’t properly secured in his car seat.